Some Iraqis think that the offensives that Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki launched in the southern cities of Basra and Amara and the Baghdad slum of Sadr City were to weaken his political rivals, the Sadrists, who controlled those areas.
The possibility of a months' long delay in the elections could fundamentally alter the priorities of local and national politicians.
At bottom, the disagreement is also about the ethnic identity of Iraq and about Arab frustration with the Kurds. Although the Kurds are a minority, they have proved adept at turning the political process to their advantage, often to the chagrin of larger ethnic and religious groups.
It is an article of faith among Kurds that Kirkuk should be part of the Kurdistan region, a principle on which they have refused to compromise.
Kirkuk, the capital of Tamim Province, is home to Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens as well as Christians. Successive political policies altered the demographics of the area. Saddam Hussein forced Kurds out and moved Arabs in.
After Mr. Hussein's ouster, the Kurds tried to reverse his policies, pushing Kurds to return and Arabs to leave.
Galbraith was stating that in 2004. To provide some context, in May 2003, Jack Shafer (Slate) was already offering this in "Reassessing Miller:"
Now, thanks to the reporting of the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz, we understand why Miller and the administration might have seen eye-to-eye on Iraq's WMD. On the same day as the Times editorial appeared, Kurtz reproduced an internal Times e-mail in which Miller described Ahmad Chalabi, the controversial Iraq leader, former exile, and Bush administration fave, as one of her main sources on WMD.
"[Chalabi] has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper," Miller e-mailed Times Baghdad bureau chief John Burns. Miller added that the MET Alpha--a military outfit searching for WMD after the invasion--"is using Chalabi's intell and document network for its own WMD work."
The failure of "Chalabi's intell" to uncover any WMD has embarrassed both the United States and Miller. As noted previously in this column, she oversold the successes of the post-invasion WMD search. On April 21, she reported in the Times that an Iraqi scientist had led MET Alpha to a site where Iraqis had buried chemical precursors for chemical and biological weapons. "Officials" told Miller this was "the most important discovery to date in the hunt for illegal weapons."
And to provide a little more context, one year later, Liar Chalabi was back in the news. Richard Engel (MSNBC) would report that Chalabi's campaign for Prime Minister of Iraq included bragging about his claims to the illegal war including a campaign poster that read: "We liberated Iraq!" (and of course featured Chalabi's grotesque face). From that report:
The idea that Chalabi 'liberated Iraq' is a growing theme with his party. A few days ago we spoke to the editor of Chalabi's newspaper about the Los Angeles Times report that the U.S. military has been planting articles in Iraqi newspapers. The editor told us he didn't see a problem with it.
"We brought the Americans here," he told us, "so why wouldn't we print the military's point of view?"
It was as if he was saying, we used the U.S., so why not let them use us a little?
In 2004, realities about Chalabi were well known. From Rick Kelly's "Ahmed Chalabi and the 'liberation' of Iraq" (WSWS):
While in Lebanon, Chalabi developed his connections in the Middle East. In 1972 he married the daughter of the speaker of the Lebanese parliament. He also made full use of his family’s monarchical contacts. The Chalabi family maintained their ties with the Jordanian Hashemite monarchy after the coup in Iraq, and in 1977 Crown Prince Hassan invited Ahmed to establish a bank in Jordan.
Chalabi's Petra became the second largest commercial bank in the country. The rotten foundation underlying its growth was only uncovered in the aftermath of a severe financial and currency crisis that gripped Jordan in the late 1980s. As the Jordanian dinar’s value plummeted, the country’s central bank demanded that financial institutions deposit 35 percent of their holdings into the central bank's reserves. Petra was the only bank that proved unable to comply. A subsequent audit revealed evidence of unprecedented fraud and theft.
Foreign exchange assets on the bank's books had disappeared, while millions of dollars of depositors' money had been illegally transferred to other businesses and financial institutions owned by the Chalabi family. This extraordinary looting operation cost Jordan an estimated $US500 million—equivalent to approximately 10 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
Escaping prosecution, Chalabi fled Jordan in August 1989. Three years later, after a comprehensive investigation, he was charged on 31 counts of theft, embezzlement and illegal currency speculation. He was sentenced, in absentia, to 22 years hard labour. Four of Chalabi's brothers were also convicted over the affair.
After Petra's demise, the authorities in Switzerland shut down two Swiss-based financial institutions run by the Chalabi family, amid reports of illegal practices. Two of the brothers who had been involved in the Petra fraud, Jawad and Hazem Chalabi, were prosecuted on charges of falsifying documents, and received six-month suspended sentences in September 2002.
Laura Rozen (Washington Monthly) had to word his actions a little more carefully, noting he was "a longtime advocate of the Iraqi Kurds". More than many bothered to do.
From Team Nader:
Nader and Gonzalez to Campaign in Austin, Texas, Sun., July 27
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Chris Driscoll, 202-360-3273, email@example.com
NADER AND GONZALEZ TO CAMPAIGN IN AUSTIN, TEXAS, SUN., JULY 27
Who: Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader and Vice Presidential Candidate Matt Gonzalez
What: Nader/Gonzalez News Conference and Campaign Rally
When: Sun., July 27, 7:00 p.m. News Conference and 7:30 p.m. Campaign Rally
Where: Trinity United Methodist Church, 600 East 50th St. Austin, TX 78751
Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader will campaign in Austin, Sun. July 27, hosting a news conference and campaign rally with Vice Presidential Candidate Matt Gonzalez at the Trinity United Methodist Church, 600 East 50th St. Austin, TX 78751. The news conference starts at 7:00 p.m., followed by a 7:30 p.m. campaign rally. Suggested donation for the rally is $10/$5 students.
Suggested donation for the rally is $10/$5 students.
Mr. Nader and Mr. Gonzalez will address critical issues the major party candidates have taken "off the table" that the Nader/Gonzalez Campaign has put on the table, including:
- a comprehensive, negotiated military and corporate withdrawal date from Iraq;
- a single-payer, Canadian-style, private delivery, free-choice public health insurance system for all;
- a living wage and repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act;
- a no-nuke, solar-based energy policy supported by renewable, sustainable, energy-efficient sources;
- a carbon tax to deter global warming;
- an end to the corporate welfare and corporate crime that has resulted in millions losing pensions, savings and jobs and squandered tax dollars; and,
- more direct democracy reflecting the preamble to our constitution which starts with "we the people," and not "we the corporations."
About Ralph Nader
Celebrated attorney, author, and consumer advocate Ralph Nader has been named by Time Magazine one of the "100 Most Influential Americans in the 20th Century." For more than four decades he has exposed problems and organized millions of citizens into more than 100 public interest groups advocating solutions. His organizations have helped establish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and enact the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and countless other pieces of important consumer legislation. Because of Ralph Nader we drive safer cars, eat healthier food, breathe better air, drink cleaner water, and work in safer environments. Nader graduated from Princeton University and received an LL.B from the Harvard School of Law.
About Matt Gonzalez
Matt Gonzalez was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2000 representing San Francisco's fifth council district. From 2003 to 2005 he served as Board of Supervisors President. A former public defender, Gonzalez is managing partner of Gonzalez & Leigh, a 7-attorney practice in San Francisco that represents individuals and organizations in mediation, arbitration, and administrative proceedings before state and federal regulatory bodies. Gonzalez graduated from Columbia University and received a JD from Stanford Law School.
For more information on the Nader/Gonzalez campaign, visit VoteNader.org
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