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Mask Ban: An Optional Policy

According to a Washington Post article, Iraqi interpreters working with the U.S. military are allowed to use masks to hide their identity again, but only on “high risk” missions.  The Pentagon granted battalion commanders the “discretion to disregard an earlier policy” which banned interpreters from wearing masks.  An Army captain, quoted in the Post’s article, describes what so many are feeling: 
“Telling a terp that his country is safe when he doesn’t feel it’s safe is as pretentious as it gets,” said an Army captain in Baghdad, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was criticizing his superiors.  “The terp-mask thing is just the latest disconnect between what happens on the ground and what people want to be happening on the ground.  We’re in full-on dress rehearsal now.  I think we’re in such a hurry to get out of here, we’re wanting this place to be safer that it really is.”
Political Developments in Iraq:
Preliminary results from provincial elections in Iraq on January 31 were surprising, according to a report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  The report asserts that, with 90 percent of the votes tallied, the message that seems to be coming from Iraqi voters is that “the status quo had to go”.  While contenders supported by Prime Minister al-Maliki did well, no current governing party in provincial councils were reelected.  The Washington Institute’s report concludes that Iraqi voters have send a clear message that they will not reelect politicians who fail to deliver on their promises.
For additional coverage and other details, please check out The Ground Truth
Canada Doubles the Number of Iraqi Refugees Sponsored:
According to an MSNBC article, Canada is doubling the number of privately sponsored Iraqi refugees it accepts from the Middle East.  At the request of the UNHCR, Canada has committed to increasing the number of resettled refugees from the Middle East by more than 50 percent in response to the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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