Saturday, October 24, 2009

Those wacky, Iraqi elections

Iraqi officials expressed concern about the success of the upcoming national elections, scheduled for Jan. 16, after the Iraqi parliament failed to overcome disagreement over the proposed new election law, as the earliest time a new law could be enacted would be next week.
An Iraqi official revealed that some political blocs held secret meetings in some neighboring countries to destabilize the results of the upcoming elections due on Jan. 16 next year, the state-run al-Sabah newspaper reported on Saturday.
According to al-Sabah, Haidar al-Ibadi, a leading member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa party, accused some political blocs of trying to hinder the progress of the upcoming elections as he "got information showing that secret meetings were held by some political forces in several neighboring countries under regional intelligence guardianship."

The above is from Ghassan Awad's "Fears over failure of approving new elections law in Iraq" (Xinhua). Two Thursdays ago, Iraq's Parliament was supposed to pass the election law; however, they didn't. Then it was wait and wait all through last week and nothing, still nothing. Iraqi Lt Gen Ali Ghaidan Majeed tells AFP, "What we are afraid of, if there is any delay to the elections . . . is this may create problems for security in general." Ranj Alaaldin (Guardian) observes, "Iraq has once again met what very low expectations remain of it. Despite a 15 October deadline, the Iraqi parliament is yet to agree on a new election law for the national elections due to be held in January, and this may, as a result, throw its political, legal and constitutional framework into disarray." Alaadin notes that the issue of open and closed lists isn't the only issue:

The only major group still to call publicly for the closed-list system is the Kurdistan Alliance; it will not, however, derail the elections over this issue. Instead, it is the question of what to do with the neglected governorate of Kirkuk that has, in predictable fashion, been the greatest cause of division within parliament. Indeed, the issue of Kirkuk itself could also become a pretext to delay the vote and keep the old 2005 law in effect.
Kirkuk, controlled by the Kurds after the 2005 elections, never took part in this year's
provincial elections because of disagreements over responsibility for security and eventual control of the provincial council. Similar disagreements exist once again. Some have called for special arrangements that divide the area into four separate, ethnically-defined electoral constituencies, while the Turkmen and Arabs are calling for voting quotas in response to what they call the modified demographics of the governorate by the Kurds, who constitute the majority there.
The Kurds were forcefully removed from Kirkuk by Saddam and are now returning back, pursuant to the "normalisation" process under
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which seeks to reverse the Arabisation policies of the Ba'ath regime. According to UN reports and staff present in Iraq at the time, in November 1991 alone, eight months after the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf war, more than 150,000 Kurds were evicted from Kirkuk.
The Kurdistan Alliance, however, has rejected giving any special status to Kirkuk simply because it has a Kurdish majority. If the oil-rich area is given special status, then, by equal measure maintains the Alliance, so should other disputed territories where Kurds happen to be minorities. To implement a quota system would indeed be profoundly undemocratic.

Following the death of Abdelaziz al-Hakim, his son Ammar al-Hakim took over the political party Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) interviews him about the intended elections:

How do you rate Maliki’s government?
We believe there were very important steps taken by the prime minister. Of course, they were not achieved by the efforts of one individual [alone] but happened because of joint efforts, unlimited support, extended from the different political powers, especially the forces of the United Iraqi Alliance [the previous ruling coalition which included both Maliki and ISCI]….
At the same time, there were a lot of mistakes made. These were tracked by the parliament because they are the side observing the [government’s] performance. Some believe the government failed to provide a clear plan and vision for its performance during the last four years. They also think that a lot of positions and decisions were taken as reactions. There were large amounts [of money] spent to achieve projects. The money was spent. But there were no projects achieved… . These are not media pronouncement. These are facts and figures being discussed among officials. This is one of the problems on a long list that we are facing.
What do you say to people who view your list as not inclusive enough of the country’s Sunni population?
We have a national program and opportunities for all. But if we opened our doors and gates and if some people didn’t make firm decisions to join, they should be asked why are you not joining… We have put out a national program and extended the invitation to all.

Meanwhile AP reports that Iraqi MP Tayseer al-Mahhadani has an arrest warrent out on her as does her husband -- she is a Sunni member of Parliament. Prashant Rao (AFP) reports that she's wanted for the vauge and umbrella charge of 'terrorists activities' and that -- arrest warrant or not -- she can't currently be arrested unless Parliament waives her immunity as a member of Parliament.

CNN reports:

The envoy, Susan Rice, arrived Friday and met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. She held talks Saturday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari at the Foreign Ministry compound in Baghdad. While touring the ministry building, they surveyed damage from the August 19 bombing, one of six targets hit within an hour that day.
Later Saturday, about 100 miles north in Tikrit, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest detonated himself outside a political party headquarters, killing two people, police said.

If you use the link, be sure to check out Susan Rice's scowling face. Yes, that is her natural facial expression.

Violence continued today in Iraq . . .


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which wounded two people and a Tikrit suicide bomber who took his own life and the lives of 3 other people.


Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack on a Baghdad military checkpoint in which two Iraqi soldiers were injured, 1 Iraqi Army Captain was shot dead in Mosul and, in an attack on a Mosul army checkpoint, 1 Iraqi soldier was killed.

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