Saturday, March 27, 2010

Little Nouri doesn't want to say goodbye

A POWER struggle between Iyad Allawi, the secular strongman who narrowly won Iraq’s general election, and Nouri al-Maliki, the incumbent prime minister, has threatened to dash hopes of a stable new government.
Maliki, whose Shi’ite-dominated State of Law party lost by 10,000 votes to Allawi’s Iraqiya coalition, vowed to challenge the March 7 ballot in the courts. He said he would start legal proceedings, complain to Iraq’s electoral commission and demand a manual recount of some votes.

The above is from Marie Colvin's "Power struggle blights Iraq poll" (Times of London). Yesterday the electoral commission released their findings -- which now require certification by the country's Supreme Court in order to be official -- and Nouri al-Maliki is not pleased. Every and now and then, I'll offer up something here that I can't source and some visitors will whine that they don't know whether it's true or not. We could have a lot of discussions if so many visitors weren't such little whiny babies. I'm thinking of one thing specifically, from the Feb. 19th snapshot:

And that will probably become very clear in the battle that follows the election and if French 'gossip'/intelligence is correct, that's when Nouri learns that buddy and pal Ahmed Chalabi cut a deal to become the next Prime Minister -- a deal that Nouri's 'friends' in Tehran not only support but helped orchestrate. If French 'gossip'/intelligence is correct.

Now you're not required to believe me. But it's obvious from the above that I'm identifying it as "French 'gossip'/intelligence" and the "if . . . is correct" is your qualifier. I'm not asking you to believe a thing, I'm merely repeating what I've heard. And we could have explored it but those working the public account had to deal with too many visitor e-mails and it just wasn't worth it to me to make them have to put up with that crap. But French 'gossip'/intelligence?

All who wanted to insist there was no way and I must be inventing something? Please direct your assertions, charges, et al to David Ignatius who wrote this morning at the Washington Post online:

The election result was a setback, too, for Ahmed Chalabi, former darling of the neo-conservatives in the U.S. and now one of Iran's best friends in Iraq. According to a de-classified intelligence document I was given in February: “Iran supports de-Baathification efforts engineered by Ahmed Chalabi for the purpose of eliminating potential obstacles to Iranian influence. Chalabi is also interested in Iran’s assistance in securing the office of prime minister.”

David identifies his information as coming to him in February. I was at a DC party in February when I heard it. We wrote about it in real time and could have explored it further but I wasn't in the mood to hear about those e-mails and so just took it to the community newsletters.

Did Ahmed Chalabi make a deal? I have no idea. I only know that the French government strongly believed in February that he had and that it was based on their intelligence. But e-mails wanting 'proof' (of a claim I wasn't and am not insisting is true -- only that it's what the French government believe) guaranteed that we took it elsewhere. And these comments can be seen as a direct reply to "AG" who e-mailed the public account this morning to whine about being at a community site and the person there wrote about something I'd included in a community newsletter but not at this site. He thinks that's unfair. Boo-hoo. That's exactly why so many things never get included here and, for the record, "AG," you're one of the ones who needed "proof" back in February. I'm sure you're now hurriedly dashing off your e-mail to David.

Rod Nordland (New York Times) reports
on Nouri's efforts to remain prime minister:

Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's party lost the Iraqi election, but a day after the results were announced it became clear that he would fight to hold on to his post -- and had taken steps to do so even before the outcome became public.
On Thursday, a day before the results were announced, he quietly persuaded the Iraqi supreme court to issue a ruling that potentially allows him to choose the new government instead of awarding that right to the winner of the election, the former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi.
On another front, officials in charge of purging the government of former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party said Saturday that they still expected to disqualify more than 50 political candidates, many of them members of Mr. Allawi's Iraqiya Party. That could strip Mr. Allawi of his plurality, 91 parliamentary seats compared with 89 for Mr. Maliki’s State of Law party.

Alsumaria TV report, "Outgoing Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki refused to acknowledge final results of Iraq Parliamentary elections." Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) continues reporting on the elections and secures an interview with Ayad Allawi:

In an interview, Mr. Allawi also chastised Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has so far refused to accept the results of the polls, which showed his bloc finished second. Mr. Allawi, a former prime minister himself, accused the incumbent of stoking sectarian tensions and threatening instability.
"I'm worried," Mr. Allawi said in a 30-minute interview with The Wall Street Journal at his home in the capital. Dressed in a dark suit and open-collared shirt, he looked weary after a long, acrimonious campaign.
Mr. Maliki is "not acting responsibly. We need to have a peaceful transition to power….not have a leader who clings to power forever," Mr. Allawi said.

Alsumaria TV reports
that the death toll in Friday's Khalis bombings has risen to 53 (with sixty-five injured.) In other violence, Reuters notes a Mosul bombing injured a woman and two of her children, 1 militia commander injured in a Baghdad shooting, two Iraqi soldiers injured in a Kirkuk shooting and 2 corpses discovered in Khanaqin.

We'll close with the opening of Debra Sweet's "Fordham University: Prettifying C.I.A. Clandestine Operations" (World Can't Wait):

I'm not sure what was worse; sitting in an auditorium for a speech by the head of CIA clandestine operations, or having most of the audience give a standing ovation afterward. There were some low points in between, too.
Thursday night I went with my friend Ray McGovern, and some current and former Fordham students to a lecture at Fordham University by Michael Sulick, Director of the National Clandestine Service, the guy in charge of counter-terrorism and covert ops. Ray and Sulick are both graduates of Fordham, and both worked for the C.I.A. One difference between them is that Ray quit long ago.

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