Friday, April 09, 2010

Bit by bit, putting it together

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiya alliance edged out Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's party in national elections last month, Thursday warned of potential chaos and violence if he is denied the right to form the country's next government.
Allawi said Maliki and his supporters' refusal to accept final election results, in which Allawi's bloc won 91 seats in parliament versus 89 for Maliki's State of Law alliance, could provoke bloodshed among the Iraqi people.

The above is the opening of Ned Parker's "Allawi fears vote impasse may fuel chaos in Iraq" (Los Angeles Times) and Allawi is the perceived winner of the March 7th elections since his political slate received the most seats in Parliament (91; Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law received 89).

Bit by bit, putting it together
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art
Every moment makes a contribution
Every little detail plays a part
Having just a vision's no solution
Everything depends on execution
Putting it together, that's what counts
-- "Putting It Together," written by Stephen Sondheim, best recorded by Barbra Streisand on her The Broadway Album.

In December 2005, elections were held and it was approximately 4 months later before a prime minister was selected: Nouri al-Maliki. However, it wouldn't have taken that long if the US government had not rejected the first choice -- the choice of Iraq's elected representatives: Ibrahim al-Jaafari. Currently, four months is the standard because that's the only time the process has been implemented. Whether it will take four months this go round or less or more is unknown.

As noted last night, Ibrahim al-Jaafari is the choice of al-Sadr supporters. Last Friday and Saturday, Moqtada al-Sadr held a vote, open to all, to determine whom al-Sadr's bloc should support and the results were announced this week: al-Jaafari swept past everyone. (There were five candidates listed on the ballot -- included Allawi and al-Maliki -- and a sixth space for write-ins.) As pointed out last night, the announced decision to support al-Jaafari sends a message:

It may be a gambit on the part of al-Sadr, it may be for real. But it does send the message to Iraqis. That message is not, "Look at me." That message is: "The occupiers denied us al-Jafaari in 2006. We're still fighting for him, we're still fighting the occupation and we're still standing."

Khaled Farhan, Waleed Ibrahim, Ian Simpson and Elizabeth Fullerton (Reuters) report this morning, that Moqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to his followers which was read today, the seventh anniversary of the fall of Baghdad to foreign forces, and warned that "the occupation and its advocates will stay in Iraq without fear [. . .] You, the Sunnis of Iraq, joined hands with the Shi'ites to lierate our country. Do not let the (U.S.) occupation or any unjust law made by it deter you from doing that." The statement was read at a demonstration of supporters (it was not read by Moqtada al-Sadr who was not present) and, AFP reports, was followed by a march where "Iraqi national flags [were held] aloft" and supporters shouted, "Yes, yes, Iraq, no, no occupation." Alsumaria TV notes "tens of thousands" marched in Najaf.

Alsumaria TV also notes that Allawi's Iraqiya was scheduled to follow other political parties by visiting Iran; however, their planned Thursday visit "has been delayed till next week".

Meanwhile, Iraq's neighbors are taking notice of the lack of apparent movement on forming a post-election government. Gulf Daily News reports that the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, met with Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi Wednesday and declared, "I have great hope in the ability of brotherly Iraqis to heal their country and ensure its unity, security and stability." Xinhua reports Jordan's King Abdullah II met with Iraq's Shi'ite Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi yesterday and "stressed Jordan's full support to Iraq." PETRA adds: "Discussions also covered the political process in Iraq. The Monarch congratulated Abdul-Mahdi on the successful Iraqi elections, stressing the Kingdom's support for Iraq's security and stability, which he said is an integral part of the security and stability of the region." The Jordan Times notes that the king travels to DC next week where he will meet with US President Barack Obama and "take part in the international conference on nuclear security that will be held in Washington April 12 and 13". Wednesday, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met in Baghdad with Kuwait's Ambassador to Iraq, Ali al-Mumin and delivered a letter from Sheikh Muhammed al-Subah expressing "Kuwait's solidarity with Iraq". Meanwhile the KRG notes:

Erbil, Kurdistan – Iraq ( The Deputy Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates yesterday in Erbil met Prime Minister Barham Salih and said that the Kurdistan Region’s achievements will motivate companies to invest and do business here.

Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr al-Qasimi, the Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah, with his delegation met Prime Minister Salih in the Kurdistan Region’s capital to discuss bilateral relations and in particular commercial ties. The Prime Minister offered the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) full support to Emirati investors and companies, and Sheikh al-Qasimi commended the Region’s development in all areas.

The meeting was attended by the KRG Interior Minister Mr Karim Sinjari, the Head of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, Planning Minister Dr Ali Sindi, and the UAE’s Ambassador to Iraq Shaikh Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Shehhi.

Crown Prince al-Qasimi was also received by President Masoud Barzani in Salahaddin. Their meeting focused on strengthening economic ties between the UAE and the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

President Barzani briefed the Crown Prince on the political developments in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq since the general election last month.

He offered the KRG’s full cooperation to UAE investors and trading companies , especially in the oil, energy, electricity, agricultural and air cargo sectors. For his part, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr al Qasimi talked about his government’s efforts to encourage UAE companies to invest more in the Kurdistan Region.

The Kurdistan Region and the UAE have had very friendly political and trade relations for several years. In February, Prime Minister Salih and a KRG ministerial delegation visited the UAE for meetings with its leadership. He met Crown Prince Al-Qasimi, the Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the Ruler of Sharjah Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and the UAE Minister for Trade Sheikha Lubna Al-Qasimi. In 2007, the KRG held a business exchange conference in Dubai which attracted over 600 companies from the UAE, the Kurdistan Region and the US.

As part of its economic development measures, the KRG is hosting a trade and investment conference in London on June 15th and 16th, which will include participants from several countries with guests from the UAE also invited. For details see

Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing has "wounded a foreign driver" and 2 police officers shot dead in Baghdad plus, dropping back to Thursday for all the rest, a Mosul bombing claimed 1 life and wounded a second person, two Falluja roadside bombing wounded one person, a Ramadi roadside bombing left two police officers injured and Interior Ministry Brigadier Fadhel Abbas was shot dead outside his Baghdad home.

In other violence information, BBC News reports that the Islamic State of Iraq has claimed credit for Sunday's Baghdad bombings targeting embassies and it states it was targeting the Iranian Embassy, the German Embassy and the Egyptian Embassy. German. At the time, there was confusion as to whether one of the bombings was targeting the German Embassy, the Spanish Embassy or the Syrian Embassy or all three. The group denied responsibility for Tuesday's apartment bombings in Baghdad. Bi Mingxin (Xinhua) adds, "The Islamic State of Iraq is reckoned as the most important Sunni insurgent group that is still active in Diyala and Baghdad. "

"Yes, folks, it's true," writes NOW on PBS executive producer John Siceloff, "NOW on PBS has come to the end of its broadcast run. The last episode will air on April 30, 2010. PBS announced last fall it was canceling NOW and providing funding for a new public affairs show called Need to Know." Click here for the rest of his essay. The program begins airing each week on Fridays on most PBS stations (check local listings) and this week they look at the economy:

The national economic disaster hit the city of Braddock Pennsylvania
like a wrecking ball. But Braddock Mayor John Fetterman -- dubbed
"America's Coolest Mayor" by The New York Times -- is taking very
unconventional approaches to reinventing the town and re-inspiring its
residents. Home to the nation's first A&P supermarket and Andrew
Carnegie's first steel mill, Braddock is being revitalized with new
youth and art programs, renovations of abandoned real estate, and bold
plans to attract artists and green industries.

On Friday, April 9 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), NOW sits down with
Mayor Fetterman to learn how the 6'8" 370-pound political novice is
trying to turn his town around, and if other devastated communities can
and should follow his large footsteps.

Staying with TV notes, Washington Week begins airing on many PBS stations tonight (and throughout the weekend, check local listings) and joining Gwen around the table this week are Charles Babington (AP), James Kitfield (National Journal), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and David Sanger (New York Times). Did you notice they're all men? Should we hold our breath as we wait for Gwen to feature an all female panel? Remember that the show podcasts in video and audio format -- and a number of people sign up for each (audio is thought to be so popular due to the fact that it downloads so much quicker). If you podcast the show, remember there is the Web Extra where Gwen and the guests weigh in on topics viewers e-mail about. And also remember that usually by Monday afternoon you can go to the show's website and stream it there (including Web Extra) as well as read the transcripts and more. Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Cari Dominguez, Kim Gandy and Andrea Pennington on the latest broadcast of PBS' To The Contrary to discuss the week's events. And at the website each week, there's an extra just for the web from the previous week's show and this week's it's on violence against women. it's on breast feeding. For the broadcast program, check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes:

John Gotti, Jr. talks to Steve Kroft in his first extended television interview about growing up with an infamous father - convicted mafia boss John Gotti - whom he strove to please by living a life of crime but eventually betrayed by leaving that life. (This is a double-length segment.) | Watch Video

The fossilized skull and bones found by a 9-yr-old boy on a fossil hunt with his scientist father are the discovery of a lifetime and may prove to be a new link in the human evolutionary chain. Bob Simon reports.

60 Minutes, Sunday, April 11, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Radio. Today on The Diane Rehm Show (airs on most NPR stations and streams live online beginning at 10:00 am EST), Diane is joined the first hour (domestic news roundup) by Ross Douthat (New York Times), Melinda Henneberger ( and Ezra Klein (Washington Post). For the second hour (international news roundup), Diane is joined by Nadia Bilbassy (MCB), James Kitfield (National Journal) and David Ignatius (Washington Post).

And we'll close with this from Jeff Gates' "Was Israel Ever Legitimate:"

The history of Israel as a geopolitical fraud will fill entire libraries as those defrauded marvel at how so few deceived so many for so long. Those duped include many naive Jews who -- even now --identify their interests with this extremist enclave.
Israeli leaders are wrong to worry about "de-legitimization." They are right to fear that a long-deceived public is fast realizing that Israel’s founding was key to an ongoing deception.
General David Petraeus dispatched a team to brief Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the perils that Israel still poses to U.S. national security. Mullen was reportedly shocked.

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