We'll come back to the violence in a moment but Yacoub notes that Najaf has given 'Ba'athists' "a one-day deadline to leave the province or face an 'iron fist.'" What Ba'athists? You don't have to prove anything, you just have to accuse. Nouri's allowed that sort of smearing to take place and now Sunnis -- and that is who will be effected -- are being driven out of Najaf. This as Missy Ryan, Muhanad Mohammed, Waleed Ibrahim, Jim Loney, Michael Christie and Louise Ireland (Reuters) report that the proposed banned on various candidates has led Sunnis to talk "about an election boycott that could pour new fuel on a Sunni Islamist insurgency just when it has begun to be beaten back." Dahr Jamail (CounterCurrents) observes:
Last week, the Shiite-sectarian political power brokers in Baghdad, led by US-appointed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, used the so-called Iraq Accountability and Justice Commission (AJC), (a remnant group of the former De-Baathification Commission set up by L. Paul Bremer, the US czar of Iraq during the first year of the occupation and led by Ahmed Chalabi), on January 7 to ban at least 14 largely Sunni political parties and political figures from the upcoming vote due to supposed links to the Baath Party, which has long since been banned in Iraq.
The AJC claims that its decision was based on new "evidence" showing connections between the 14 groups and the Baath Party, but has thus far failed to produce any said evidence.
On January 5, the Saudi-owned London-based daily newspaper Al-Hayat wrote of this: "The independent Iraqi Election Commission has revealed that it has received an interpretation from the Iraqi Supreme Federal Court in regard to the seventh article of the constitution, which prohibits Ba'thist participation in all elections and also the participation of any Ba'th allies or supporters in any political activity. It is important to note that this decision could lead to the exclusion of fourteen political parties and groups from the electoral process."
The commission's president Faraj al-Haydari was quoted in that regard by Al-Hayat as saying: "We have received the Federal Court's interpretation regarding some political entities which were first included in the electoral process but will be excluded from the process altogether in light of this recent court decision. The Federal Court considered that any politician or party involved in terrorist activities, or enjoying Ba'thist ideas, must be excluded. This decision considers that, based on Article 7 of the constitution, these people should be excluded from any political participation and from public life."
The most important figure banned, thus far, was Saley al-Mutlaq, a secular Sunni leader, whose National Dialogue Front is very popular among Iraq's largely disenfranchised Sunni population. Mutlaq was likely targeted by Maliki in this pre-emptive political assassination attempt because in recent months he has effectively created a powerful bloc of opposition that would challenge both Maliki and the broader Shiite political alliance to which he belongs, which is comprised of the likes of Muqtada al-Sadr's group, the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, and Chalabi.
Back to the violence, Xinhua reports a Maqdadiyah motorcycle bombing (Diyala Province) which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more wounded. Reuters adds a Baghdad sticky bombing (to an Iraqi military vehicle) injured an Iraqi soldier and a citizen, a Falluja sticky bombing claimed 2 lives and, dropping back to Sunday for all the rest, a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured two, 3 men shot dead in 3 Mosul shootings, 1 shepherd injured in a Kirkuk mine explosion and 1 woman's corpse discovered in Kirkuk.
This is from Lance Selfa's "The liberals fall in line" (US Socialist Worker):
Aside from a few policy wonks, many (if not most) liberals feel that the health care legislation that will emerge from Senate and House negotiations is insufficient--and, in parts, harmful to ordinary people's health care. The most ardent supporters of reform know that the likely "compromise" modeled on the more conservative Senate version of the bill will be a huge gift to the insurance industry. At the same time, they feel that Democrats have gotten far less than they could or should have, in large part because they didn't even try.
What happened to all the brave announcements of "lines in the sand" and "standing up for real reform?" Over the summer, the House Progressive Caucus threatened to vote as a bloc against any legislation that didn't include a "public option"--a publicly financed insurance system to compete with private insurers. Today, it's almost certain that the final version of the bill will not include a public option.
So will the House progressives follow through on their threat to defeat the bill? Don't count on it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi might give a few progressive caucus members a "free vote" to oppose the bill if there's enough of a cushion to pass it, but if progressives stand between passage of the bill and its defeat, don't expect them to vote to defeat it.
Jay noted the above and wondered about Third? I'm assuming someone at a community site last week noted the plan to do some health care issues at Third. That was the plan. I have no idea what happened. Mike will cover Third tomorrow (and he's posting today) so refer to that. I know that we were supposed to be done no later than 5:00 a.m. PST but as of 4:00 a.m. PST, only the editorial and Ava and my piece had been written. When things were finally published, there were four pieces that weren't worth publishing, we couldn't fix them. I don't even, right now, remember what they were. So refer to Mike. But we were supposed to cover health care, that did get sidelined and I have no idea why.
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the new york times
sameer n. yacoub