Saturday, November 21, 2009

No vote today on those 'intended' January elections

So today the Iraqi Parliament was going to meet and, for the dreamers among the press, resolve the issues arising from Iraq's Sunni vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi vetoing the election law earlier this week. As Carole King sings ("Chalis Borealis," Speeding Time), "Didn't work out quite the way you wanted, how were you to know?" Well you couldn't have 'known,' but you could have expected. You could have made a best-guess simply by looking at how slowly the Parliament moves. (For example, do we want to again count how long the Parliament 'operated' without a Speaker after they drove off their previous one?) AFP reports, "Iraqi MPs will meet again on Sunday to try to break the deadlock on a stalled electoral law which has left the country's planned January general election in doubt. The vote is postponed until tomorrow, parliament speaker Iyad al-Samarrai told reporters on Saturday, after a further day of meetings failed to resolve a dispute on a key provision in the law which will govern the national poll." Waleed Ibrahim, Ahmed Rasheed, Khalid al-Ansary, Michael Christie and Sonya Hepinstall (Reuters) explains, "Parliament must now either address Hashemi's complaints and amend the law, which may invite other interest groups to demand other changes, or send it back to him unchanged only for him to possibly veto it again." DPA adds, "According to [MP Ezzeddin] al-Dawla, MPs were divided during Saturday's discussions, with 'a majority calling for a rejection of al-Hashemi's demand.' A few, al-Dawla said, 'sought a compromise of reserving 10 per cent of the seats for expatriates'."

So, taking the past into consideration, it's not really a surprise what happened today; however, it ended up taking many in the press by surprise -- the same way al-Hashemi's veto did. And that also wasn't a surprise.

Was it legal?

Every law the Parliament's passed has gone before the presidency council for approval. Any member of the council can object (or all of them) and the law is voided. It's never been an issue before whether or not they had these powers because people (or those in power) apparently 'liked' the decisions by the council prior to this one.

From Thursday's snapshot:

Also making an ass out of himself is Baha al-Araji who has given multiple statements to the press today (they may or may not print them tomorrow). The Shi'ite who serves on Iraq's Constitutional Court states/rules (depending upon which outlet he's speaking to) that Tariq al-Hashmi doesn't have the power to veto the election law. Now that would toss the issue up in the air and require examination but chatty al-Araji goes on to weaken his own case by blathering on about how his own (al-Araji) deciding was based on what al-Hashmi objected to. That would undercut al-Araji's alleged conclusion. Either the presidential council has the power to veto or they don't -- it doesn't matter what their reasoning is. They possess the power or they don't. At every other point, the council's possessed this power. Most outlets will probably ignore the ravings of al-Araji because the Parliament's taking up the issue on Saturday.

So what happened there? Was it legal or not? Alsumaria reports the courts have rule (non-surprisingly) that the veto power did exist, "In a statement, the committee noted that the court's response stipulated that the Independent High Electoral Commission should determine a suitable mechanism to turn the law from unconstitutional to constitutional. [. . .] Iraq's court decision stressed that Al Hashemi's veto is constitutional, the committee added."

In related news, Khalid al-Ansary, Michael Christie and James Jukwey (Reuters)report that the vote on approval of the bids on West Qurna and Zaubair oil fields -- which was supposed to have taken place Tuesday (but didn't) -- may not take place this Tuesday as newly scheduled according to a government spokesperson. Still related, Timothy Williams (New York Times) reports that after spending $53 billion in tax payer monies onf "relief and reconstruction in Iraq," US officials are now faced with "growing concerns . . . that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities" when US forces depart -- whenever that may be. Such an inability would mean billions were wasted.

Meanwhile Nouri uses al Qaeda in Mesopotamia the way some (with high blood pressure) use salt: He sprinkles it on everything and does so excessively. As he's continued to blame every explosion and sneeze and the homegrown group, the US military has been at a loss for what to do. Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) reports the brass has come up with a game plan: Declare that they have "rebounded in strength" and that they're on the move. Such a declaration, not noted in the article, would of course mean the one claim to fame the brass had to spit shine is now gone -- if the US military didn't even wipe out al Qaeda in Iraq, what did they accomplish? No doubt Thomas Friedman will compose a fanciful 'essay' on that topic in a bit. Until then, Londono reports:

Although the group has lost many top leaders, funding sources and popular support, it stands to gain from a deeply split political establishment, growing Sunni resentment toward the Shiite-led government, disjointed Iraqi security agencies and the diminishing ability of U.S. forces to engage in combat operations in Iraq.

Turning to some of today's violence

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports
2 Baghdad roadside bombings which injured nine people, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed 1 life and left three people wounded and, dropping back to last night, a Kirkuk suicide bombing which claimed the life of the bomber and no one else.

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 teacher shot dead in Mosul and two Iraqi soldiers injured in a second Mosul shooting.

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