Thursday, December 04, 2008

al-Maliki v. Talabani

In this morning's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin's "Clash in Iraq Over a Plan for Councils Intensifies" explores the continued tension between the puppet government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government. She terms it "a power struggle" and focuses on Kurdish objection to 'tribal councils' ("Awakening" for the north) and al-Maliki's objection to what is seen as Kurdish efforts to expand their territory. She questions al-Maliki's assertion that the 'tribal councils' are unarmed since "every adult male" in Iraq "is permitted one gun." She notes Jalal Talabani's objections to al-Maliki's proposed 'councils'. Talabani is the President of Iraq and he is Kurd. He has stated al-Maliki's efforts are extra-Constutional and is calling for the Federal Supreme Court to intervene. al-Maliki says (basically), "Nah-nah-nah, I'll create what I want and who cares if it's mentioned in the Constitution or not."

This is China's Xinhua on al-Maliki's rejection of Talabani's concerns:

Maliki's refusal came in a letter he sent to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, saying "there is no practical or legal justification to dissolve the support councils after they managed to provide security, stability and backed the national reconciliation efforts in Iraq."
"The support councils are nothing but a tribal gathering which are opened for all tribesmen who are willing to support the security forces," Maliki said in his letter posted on his office website.
"We have not distributed any rifle, pistol or even a bullet for the support councils, therefore, it was strange that you (Talabani) describe them as militias," he said.

These developments are another reason that Moqtada al-Sadr's position is not weakening, just FYI. (See "al-Sadr's lost influence?") "In his apparent overwhelming confidence in his power, Maliki has recently picked fights with his Kurdish allies, his Shi'ite opponents and his Sunni partners over a variety of issues," observes Rania Abouzeid in "Iraq's Maliki Faces Challenge Over Power Grab" (Time magazine) and Abouzeid goes on to note:

The acrimonious exchanges between Maliki and the Kurds are rooted in the economic and territorial ambitions of both parties, and they threaten to widen the broadening Arab-Kurd schism. Maliki's recent call to amend the constitution to beef up the central government's powers at the expense of Iraq's 18 provinces did not spare the semiautonomous three-province Kurdish region in the north. It has not only stoked tensions with the independence-minded Kurds but has also drawn fire from his Shi'ite coalition allies in the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, who want to set up a similar semiautonomous region in the Shi'ite south. On Monday, the Kurdish regional government strongly condemned Maliki's governance, basically equating it to Saddam Hussein's. Maliki wants to "take the people of Iraq back to a period we are desperately trying to get beyond," the statement read. "A period where the excessive concentration, or centralization, of economic and political power condemned all Iraqis to unimaginable suffering."
It may an emotional argument that the Kurds are using, but it's also grounded in regional self-interest -- which is the Prime Minister's case against those who oppose him. Maliki has lambasted the Kurdish regional government for unilaterally signing oil deals with international companies and cutting Baghdad out of the loop, as well as opening representative offices overseas. He has also pushed back against the Kurds' attempts to extend their military presence into territory south of their regional border. "The central government thinks the Kurdish regional government behaves like a state, and the Kurds think Maliki wants to flex his muscles and go back to a strong central government with him as the strongman," says Mahmoud Othman, an independent Kurdish parliamentarian.

Talabani serves, with his two vice presidents, on the presidency council and Reuters reports they've given the thumbs up to the treaty between the White House and the puppet government. (

And Cedric and Wally note Glen Ford's "Susan Rice is Bad News for Africa" (Black Agenda Report):

She has long been a super-hawk on punishing Sudan for its behavior in Darfur. Back in October, 2006, Rice declared, "It's time to get tough" with the government in Khartoum." In a Washington Post column, she advised the Bush regime to give Sudan "an ultimatum: accept unconditional deployment of the U.N. force within one week or face military consequences." (explain China and oil and Israel)

On Darfur, Rice is more bellicose than Bush. She sees no contradiction in calling for military action against Sudan, supposedly to end a "humanitarian crisis" in Darfur, while simultaneously backing a savage U.S.-Ethiopian assault that causes an even larger humanitarian calamity in Somalia. Rice claims to seek safety for civilians in Darfur, while supporting a total absence of security for Somali civilians. Darfur is a military/political convenience for "real-politic" operatives like Susan Rice. As Bruce Dixon wrote in his November 2007 BAR article, "If stopping genocide in Africa really was on the agenda, why the focus on Sudan with 200,000 to 400,000 dead rather than Congo with five million dead?" (See "Ten Reasons Why 'Save Darfur' is a PR Scam to Justify the Next US Oil and Resource Wars in Africa.")

They noted Ford in their joint-post last night ("Dirty Rice?" and "THIS JUST IN! THE RICE THAT MAKES CONDI LOOK SANE!"). Stan offered "Politics, Milk" and other community posts include:

Mike and Elaine fit better with the next entry.

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alissa j. rubin

oh boy it never ends