Tuesday, August 15, 2006

NYT: "Speaker of Iraqi Parliament May Step Down" (Edward Wong)

The speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, is the third-ranking official in Iraq and a conservative Sunni Arab. Shiite and Kurdish legislators have banded together to try to push him out, mainly because he is considered too radical.
Since taking office in late May, Mr. Mashhadani has publicly praised the Sunni insurgency, called the Americans "butchers" and denounced the idea of carving up Iraq into autonomous regions, which the Kurds and some Shiites support.
"Maybe now is the best time for me to withdraw," Mr. Mashhadani said in a telephone interview. "My hand won't be stained as they want it to be stained."
The replacement of Mr. Mashhadani would represent the first upheaval in the new Shiite-led government since it was installed on May 20. In the weeks since, Iraqis have been growing more and more disillusioned with their leaders as sectarian violence has soared and basic services like electricity and water continue to lag. The executive offices and the 275-seat Parliament are split mostly among the major Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish political blocs.

The above is from Edward Wong's "Speaker of Iraqi Parliament May Step Down" in this morning's New York Times. Mashhadanai's party controls 44 seats in the parliament.

We're going to drop back to early 2005, Naomi Klein's "Getting the Purple Finger" (The Nation via Common Dreams):

"The Iraqi people gave America the biggest 'thank you' in the best way we could have hoped for." Reading this election analysis from Betsy Hart, a columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service, I found myself thinking about my late grandmother. Half blind and a menace behind the wheel of her Chevrolet, she adamantly refused to surrender her car keys. She was convinced that everywhere she drove (flattening the house pets of Philadelphia along the way) people were waving and smiling at her. "They are so friendly!" We had to break the bad news. "They aren't waving with their whole hand, Grandma--just with their middle finger."
So it is with Betsy Hart and the other near-sighted election observers: They think the Iraqi people have finally sent America those long-awaited flowers and candies, when Iraq's voters just gave them the (purple) finger.

[. . .]
So what's the prize? An end to occupation, as the voters demanded? Don't be silly--the US government won't submit to any "artificial timetable." Jobs for everyone, as the UIA promised? You can't vote for socialist nonsense like that. No, they get Geraldo Rivera's tears ("I felt like such a sap"), Laura Bush's motherly pride ("It was so moving for the President and me to watch people come out with purple fingers") and Betsy Hart's sincere apology for ever doubting them ("Wow--do I stand corrected").
And that should be enough. Because if it weren't for the invasion, Iraqis would not even have the freedom to vote for their liberation, and then to have that vote completely ignored. And that's the real prize: the freedom to be occupied. Wow--do I stand corrected.

Think about that with the news brought in today's paper. When Nouri al-Maliki came to the US he was under pressure to 'do something' about al-Mashhadani. It appears the bidding will be done. In other elected legislator news, Skip notes Australia's ABC "Labor questions need for diplomatic mission in Iraq:"

The Federal Opposition says the Government should consider moving Australia's diplomatic mission out of Baghdad after a rocket attack injured four Australian soldiers yesterday.
[. . .]
But Opposition defence spokesman Robert McClelland says the Government should be evaluating whether its diplomatic obligations could be met from outside Iraq.
"There is precedent for our diplomatic missions to be conducted from neighbouring countries," he said.
"In circumstances where the deteriorating security climate is such in Iraq and certainly in Baghdad, that our mission is facing difficulty in functioning as it is, that is something that that Government's clearly got to explore."

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