Thursday, November 05, 2009

Another 'deadline' passed and no election law

I have written to the head of the UN expressing concern over the possibility of "free and fair" elections taking place in Iraq next January. Repeating the much-publicised vote-rigging seen in Afghanistan, since the last national Iraqi election in 2005, political factions have placed supporters on the Iraqi Electoral Commission to assist them in manipulating the result in the upcoming election. This self-interested action must be defused now, and I am calling on the UN to replace Iraq's Electoral Commission with fresh faces, unaligned and unbeholden to the factions in Baghdad. This could take place immediately, with no disruption to the political process, and would give the best possible chance of a fair vote in January.
A free, fair and properly supervised election in January is absolutely vital for our country's young democracy and the wider region. As has been witnessed in Afghanistan, failure to ensure a free vote is too damaging to imagine.

Ayad Jamal Aldin MP

The above is one of the letters to the editors of the Guardian, that one by a member of Iraq's Parliament. MP Ayad Jamal Aldin is running for re-election and promises, at his website, "A better life for Iraqi families" via three steps:

* 1 million new jobs, especially for our young
* Make the electricity system work within 2 years
* Major upgrades to deliver running water

His campaign's most recent posting was on the elections:

Ayad Jamal Aldin MP, the leader of the Ahrar Party in Iraq has today warned about the possibility of election fraud at Iraq's upcoming national election and called on the United Nations to replace Iraq's Electoral Commission with fresh faces, unaligned and unbeholden to existing factions in Baghdad.
In open letters sent to United States President Barack Obama, Secretary General of the United Nations Ban-Ki Moon, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations and current Chair of the United Nations Security Council, Mr Aldin MP expresses concern over the politicisation of Iraq's Electoral Commission and questions whether 'free and fair' elections will take place in Iraq next January.
In his letter Mr Aldin MP says: "Since our last election in 2005, various political factions have manoeuvred their supporters onto the Iraqi Electoral Commission in order to ensure a favourable result for themselves in January's election. The pattern is identical to that seen in Afghanistan. I urge you to request that the Security Council instructs the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq to replace Iraq's Electoral Commission with fresh faces unaligned and unbeholden to the factions in Baghdad. This could take place immediately, with no disruption to the political process, and would give the best possible chance of a fair vote in January."

Yesterday's snapshot included the following on the election law:

While the violence continues, there's still no election law. Today Alsumaria reports, "Iraq High Election Commission gave the parliament a timeline that ends on Thursday in order to enact an elections' law or else it will not be able to hold elections as it is scheduled on January 16. Chief of IHEC Faraj Al Haidari said that the commission and the UN discussed elections' timeline and stressed that if he did not receive the law in the two upcoming days the commission won't be able to hold the elections on the scheduled date." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) adds, "The election commission said if parliament doesn't approve a law by the end of Thursday, it will be impossible to hold the polls as scheduled on Jan. 16 because there won't be enough time to organize it. In meetings earlier this week, United Nations officials also told lawmakers if a law isn't passed by Thursday, the U.N. would urge postponement of the elections." The Iraqi Constitution mandates that the elections must be held before the end of January 2010; however, the Iraqi Constitution mandates many things -- such as resolving the issue of Kirkuk or appointing a full cabinet by X date or requiring Parliament's approval to extend a United Nations mandate -- and Nouri's always managed to just ignore it.

Big surprise, nothing. No election law today. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that Parliament finished today's session (Thursday's session) "without agreeing" to any election law. Nothing has been passed.

From Liz Sly's "U.S. keeps a low profile ahead of Iraq elections" (Los Angeles Times):

As Iraqi lawmakers repeatedly miss deadlines for writing the new law urgently needed for elections to go ahead in January -- and for U.S. troops to go home -- America's diminishing role in the political process is very much in evidence.
Back in 2005, when Iraq's democracy was being formed, it was common for legislators to meet into the small hours of the morning in the presence of U.S. officials, who shuttled between the feuding camps, mediating disputes and pressuring them to stick to the timetable for a new constitution and for elections to be held.
Four years later, elections are due to be held again, and the original deadline for the new law came and went three weeks ago, putting at risk the Jan. 16 vote and potentially delaying the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. combat forces next year.
This time around, U.S. diplomats have adopted a noticeably lower profile, ceding the lead mediation role to the United Nations and emphasizing the need for Iraqis to solve their own problems.

Nick Baumann and Mother Jones grasp that the Iraq War has not ended and offer "We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 5, 2009" while Josh Rogin's "Exclusive: Did the U.S. government buy favorable coverage of Iraq’s Anbar Province?" (Foreign Policy) reminds that a lot of money has gone into the sinkhole that is the illegal war and for a lot of questionable activities:

U.S. taxpayer money that was supposed to be used for emergency purposes in Iraq was spent to buy a special advertising issue for an Anbar businessman in a British trade magazine, a U.S. government investigation has found.
FDI magazine, a bimonthly print publication and website owned by the Financial Times, nearly simultaneously showered Anbar Governor Qasim Abid Muhammad Hammadi Al Fahadawi with positive coverage, praising the dangerous Anbar province as "a hot place to invest in" and giving the businessman an award as "Global Personality of the Year for 2009."
FDI's award was announced three days before the "Special Report" on Anbar, entitled, "Bridge to the Future," was published on its website. The award was immediately praised by the U.S. military in Iraq, without mention of the U.S. funds spent on the supplement, and the website makes no mention of it having been paid for by the American government. Then again last month, FDI magazine Editor Courtney Fingar handed the governor another award naming Anbar province one of FDI magazine's "standout regions of the year."
Reached by The Cable, Fingar confirmed the U.S. government had spent "in the neighborhood of $50,000" on the special supplement but denied her magazine's content had been bought and paid for, calling the report on Anbar "balanced and accurate."
The investigation was disclosed in the October quarterly report of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR), which is tasked with monitoring U.S. expenditures and projects in Iraq, but has so far not been publicly reported. Sources told The Cable that after the report is submitted to Congress, it's up to that body to determine if the payment violated funding rules or the law.

There was a reason Congress repeatedly questioned the lack of accountability with regards to CERP funds and don't be surprised if Rogin's report doesn't lead to a new round of questions, possibly today.

With Aimee Allison, David Solnit authored the must read Army Of None. David Solnit has now teamed up with his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, for a new book and there's a new action.

Two things I'd like to tell you about:
ACTION: A Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on the ten year anniversary of Seattle WTO shutdown, Nov 30, 2009. Yesterday African delegates walked out of pre-Copenhagen trade talks in Barcelona demanding the US and rich countries commit themselves to deeper and faster greenhouse gas emission cuts and European activists blockaded the talks. The key fight over the future of the planet is taking place right now around climate; corporate market solutions are the new WTO and the US and the rich countries are undermining any efforts at climate solutions to avert even more catastrophic impacts. What could shift things right now is people in the US (doing what we did ten years ago) showing mass resistance to the US government and corporate capitalism's obstruction and false solutions. Please join one of the regional actions being planned in SF and around the US (details here soon) and sign up to take or support direct action and get your folks together now!

BOOK: AK Press asked me to make a book reflecting on the Seattle WTO shutdown from an organizers view. With my sister Rebecca Solnit, Kate and the AK Press collective workers, designer Jason Justice and contributions from fellow organizers we did it just in time for the ten year anniversary. Please support by buying a book , get ten at half-off, and pass on the announcement below.

hope and resistance, David Solnit

"To many mass movements in developing countries that had long been fighting lonely, isolated battles, Seattle was the first delightful sign that people in imperialist countries shared their anger and their vision of another kind of world." -- Arundhati Roy

AK Press is pleased to announce the release of a new book in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests: November 30, 2009

By David Solnit & Rebecca Solnit
with Anuradha Mittal, Chris Dixon, Stephanie Guilloud, and Chris Borte

From dawn to dusk on November 30, 1999, tens of thousands of people shut down the World Trade Organization meeting, facing cops firing tear gas and rubber bullets, the National Guard, and the suspension of civil liberties. An unexpected history was launched from the streets of Seattle, one in which popular power would matter as much as corporate power, in which economics assumed center-stage, and people began envisioning who else they could be and what else their economies and societies might look like.

The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattleexplores how that history itself has become a battleground and how our perception of it shapes today’s movements against corporate capitalism and for a better world. David Solnit recounts activist efforts to intervene in the Hollywood star-studded movie, Battle in Seattle, and pulls lessons from a decade ago for today. Rebecca Solnit writes of challenging mainstream misrepresentation of the Seattle protests and reflects on official history and popular power. Core organizer Chris Dixon tells the real story of what happened during those five days in the streets of Seattle.

Profusely illustrated, with a reprint of the original 1999 Direct Action Network's "Call to Action" broadsheet-- including key articles by Stephanie Guilloud, Chris Borte, and Chris Dixon -- and a powerful introduction from Anuradha Mittal, The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle is a tribute to the scores of activists struggling for a better world around the globe. It's also a highly-charged attack on media mythmaking in all its forms, from Rebecca Solnit’s battle with the New York Times to David Solnit’s intervention in the Battle in Seattle film, and beyond. Every essay in this book sets the record straight about what really happened in Seattle, and more importantly why it happened. This is the real story.

David Solnit lived and organized in Seattle in 1999 with the Direct Action Network, a group co-initiated by the Art and Revolution Collective, of which he was a part. He has been a mass direct action organizer since the early ’80s, and in the ’90s became a puppeteer and arts organizer. He is the editor of Globalize Liberation: How to Uproot the System and Build a Better World and co-author with Aimee Allison ofArmy of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War and Build a Better World. He currently works as a carpenter in Oakland, California and organizes with Courage to Resist, supporting GI resisters, and with the Mobilization for Climate Justice West.

Rebecca Solnit is an activist, historian and writer who lives in San Francisco. Her twelfth book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, came out this fall. The previous eleven include 2007’s Storming the Gates of Paradise; A Field Guide to Getting Lost; Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities;Wanderlust: A History of Walking;As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art; River of Shadows, Eadweard Muybridge and the Technological Wild West (for which she received a Guggenheim, the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism, and the Lannan Literary Award). A contributing editor to Harper’s, she frequently writes for the political site She has worked on antinuclear, antiwar, environmental, indigenous land rights and human rights campaigns and movements over the years.

Available now in electronic galleys. Contact Kate Khatib ( to request a copy for review. Please consider scheduling articles to coincide with the tenth anniversary of the Seattle WTO protests on November 30, 2009.


The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle
is now available for preorder at the AK Press website, and will ship in mid-November. Individuals can get a 25% discount on the cover price (a modest $12) by ordering in advance. If, however, you or your organization is interested in buying copies in bulk at a wholesale rate, to sell or give away at upcoming events or convergences, we have a special deal for you!

Order 10 or more copies of The Battle of the Story of the Battle of Seattle by November 20, and get 50% off the cover price. Books will be shipped to arrive by N30. (Orders must be prepaid, and are non-returnable, except in the case of damaged books. Shipping fees vary based on location.)

Email for more information or to place an order, or simply place your order for 10 or more copies on our website, note *Special 50% off deal* in the comments box during checkout, and we'll apply the 50% discount before we charge your card.

Questions?, or call the warehouse at (510) 208-1700.

Battle of Seattle Cover


ISBN: 978-1-904859635

November 2009

5.5 X 8.5, 128 pages
40+ B&W Illustrations


AK Press

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