Thursday, October 22, 2009

Iraq's 'intended' January elections

The Iraqi Parliament announced Wednesday that it had stalemated over drafting an election law, throwing January's crucial parliamentary vote into jeopardy and potentially slowing down U.S. withdrawal from the country.
While the United States is looking for credible elections in Afghanistan, possibly to justify sending more troops there, in Iraq it is looking for credible elections to justify removing more troops.

The above is from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's "Iraq hits election impasse." At, Jason Ditz reports on the delay here and observes that "President Obama has removed very few troops from Iraq since taking office" while noting the July vote that was supposed to take place on the Status Of Forces Agreement never took place. That's in Iraq, where the Parliament passed it on Thanksgiving Day with the agreement that it would be put before the people. It has not been put before the people. To reply to an e-mail, no, I'm not working on 'legalizing' the SOFA in the US. That's a pet project of a bunch of faux 'lefties' (CODESTINK types) and it's a complete slap in the face of the Constitution. The Congress doesn't approve a treaty after the fact, the advise & consent clause of the Constitution is very clear. Maybe those 'working' on their pet project might instead working on learning the Constitution?

As for an after-the-fact approval? Not happening. Too many in Congress are rightly outraged over the circumventing of the Constitution and are not going to give cover for this and encourage it to ever happen again. But those CODESTINK types never know anything because (A) they never know the basic facts and (B) they've got their faces pressed against the window from the outside. (A) and (B) add up to make them among the most mis-informed but they think taking marching orders from a bunch of administration types makes them insiders. As Goldie Hawn says in Shampoo, "stop kissing everyone's ass that comes into that shop. That's not going to put you in business. That's going to make you a kiss-ass."

What are they saying over on the right-wing? The Hoover Institute's Victor Davis Hanson calls Barack "The kitty-cat who roared" (St. Augustine Record):

Going back further to September 2007, candidate Obama postured about Iraq that he wanted "to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year -- now!"
That "now!" sure sounded macho.
On Iraq, candidate Obama also railed that "the American people have had enough of the shifting spin. We've had enough of extended deadlines for benchmarks that go unmet."
Talk about "unmet" deadlines and "spin"-- here we are in October 2009, and there are still 120,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. The reason why Obama fudged on his promised deadline is that the surge in 2007 worked. American deaths plummeted. The theater is quiet. Iraqi democracy is still there after six years. Obama cannot quite admit these facts, but on the other hand he does not want to be responsible for undermining them.

No, Iraq has no "democracy." But that's the right-wing for you. He is, however, correct that Barack promised something and failed to deliver. And the right-wing has every reason to laugh at the faux left who pretended to give a damn about ending the Iraq War and now play dumb. The word for the faux left is: Hypocrite.

Laith Hammoudi and Jenan Hussein's "Impasse over Iraqi election law may slow U.S. withdrawal" (McClatchy Newspapers) report:

The speaker of the parliament, Dr. Ayad al Samarrai, said at a news conference that the parliament had resolved 90 percent of what he called obstacles -- including allowing Iraqis to vote directly for individual candidates, not just party lists --but that lawmakers remained deadlocked over how January's scheduled parliamentary elections should be conducted in oil-rich northern Kirkuk province.
The impasse over how Kirkuk, where Kurdish Sunni Muslims have relocated in large numbers to reverse the late dictator Saddam Hussein's campaign to populate it with Sunni Arabs, should be represented in the parliament could delay the elections, and the Obama administration's plan to accelerate a U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq.
A speedier withdrawal is essential to any plan to send more than 35,000 or so additional American troops to Afghanistan.
Samarrai referred the issue Wednesday to Iraq's Political Council for National Security, which includes Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, and President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and the leaders of the parliament's political blocs. Maliki has been visiting the U.S., however, so it's unclear how quickly the council could convene or the parliament could vote on a compromise, if the council can negotiate one.

A number of e-mails from visitors ask why we didn't note that Iraq's 'intended' January elections are endangering the 'draw-down'? Because some overheated reporters have gotten it wrong. Had that been stated in yesterday's US House Armed Services Committee Hearing, I would have reported it in the snapshot. That's not what was stated. From yesterday's snapshot, this is the exchange that's been distorted:

Ranking Member Howard McKeon: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have this article that was written [by Oliver August] in the London Times yesterday. The title is "Violence Threatens Barack Obama's pledge to pull troops out of Iraq." And what they're basically saying is that they're threatening to move back the election from January. The election can't be held until their Parliament passes an election law. And, uh, al Qaeda doesn't want to have an election. And they want to do what they can to disrupt it. [The top US commander in Iraq] General [Ray] Odierno feels that he needs to keep his troops there thirty to sixty days after the election to ensure a peaceful transition of government. Do you have any intelligence showing that -- or any feeling that the election is going to be postponed?
Michele Flournoy: Uh, let me start by saying, you know, the draw-down plan that we have, is conditions based and it creates multiple decision points for re-evaluating and, if necessary, changing our plans based on developments on the ground. Although the government of Iraq's self-imposed deadline of October 15th for passing the elections law has passed, we judge that the COR [Council Of Representatives] still has another week or two to come to some kind of an agreement on the elections law before it will put the January date -- the early January date -- in jeopardy in terms of the election commission's ability to actually physically execute the, uh, the election. If a new law with open lists is not passed, the fall back solution for them is to return to the 2005 election law which is based on a closed list system. But that could be used for upcoming elections, the COR would simply have to vote on an election date. If that law is not passed in the next two weeks, they will be looking at slipping the date to later in January which would still be compliant with the [Iraqi] Constitution but would be later than originally planned. In that instance, M-NF-I [Multi-National Forces Iraq] would need to engage with the government of Iraq to do some contingency planning on how to secure the elections at a later date and that might well have-have implications. But I just want to reinforce, right now, on the ground in Baghdad, here in Washington, just yesterday, our focus is on trying to stick to the current election timeline. The [US] President [Barack Obama] personally impressed upon Prime Minister [Nouri al-] Maliki the importance of sticking to the Constitutionally specified timeline for the Iraqi elections and we are putting all of our diplomatic effort towards that end. That said, of course we will have contingency plans to adjust if necessary. But right now, we're using all of our diplomatic and other leverage to try to make sure the elections happen on time.
Ranking Member Howard McKeon: We won't be forcing General Odierno to withdraw our troops if they don't hold the election in a timely manner? We will still be flexible and allow him to keep the troops there? To provide the national security so they don't -- they don't put themselves at risk in trying to rush out in the couple of month period?
Michele Flournoy: The draw-down plan is not rigid. It is got -- it is conditions based, it leaves room for re-evaluation and adjustment in terms of the pace of the draw-down between now and the end of 2011 so, if need be, we will re-examine things based on conditions on the ground.

Ann Scott Tyson's piece at Australia's The Age gets it correct. Few others can make that claim. For the record, Flournoy ignores the Iraqi court verdict which states the previous election law can't be utilized. Her interpretation may be right and it may be wrong but no one asked her about the court verdict and why she wasn't factoring it in (she may have good reason not to factor it in). Her presentation to the Congress was that there were two more weeks that the election law could be passed before it would be a problem to worry about.

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laith hammoudi