Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nouri doesn't want to leave, Chris Hill can't count

Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, battling for another term in office, lashed out at Iraq's neighbors Monday for meddling in its affairs as political leaders negotiate the composition of a new government.
The tough comments were broadcast on state TV and came as representatives of Iraqi parties tour the region. Some Middle East countries have issued statements in recent days on Iraq's ongoing negotiations.
Without naming any neighboring countries, Maliki warned them not to intervene in Iraqi affairs. "Some are talking through the media as if they were our guardians," he said.

The above is from Ned Parker and Usama Rehda's "Iraqi leader warns nearby nations against meddling" (Los Angeles Times) and getting Nouri off the prime minister throne is going to be like getting Joan Crawford off Secret Storm (she foolishly took over for her daughter in the role of a young home maker) -- it's not going to be easy and, you just know, it's not going to be pretty. March 7th, Iraqis voted (early voting began on the fourth for security forces) and the outcome was 91 seats to Ayad Allawi's political slate and 89 seats to Nouri's. If Norma Desmond could have scaled down for a soap (as Crawford briefly did), you'd have a good picture of Nouri who refuses to go quietly. (Nouri may very well end up remaining prime minister. But his slate did not win and he has too many Shi'ite enemies. For good reason.) Over the weekend, Allawi appeared on Frost Over The World (Al Jazeera) where, among other topics, Frost wondered how Iraq moves forward?

David Frost: What are the key compromises that have to be made by somebody?

Ayad Allawi: I think the compromises really should start with the negotiations. What we need to see is that there is a success for the political process, there's a victory for the democracy as much as we can. I think we ought to look at what we can do to Iraq. We need to address the issue of security and this should be in capable hands. We need to restructure our security forces. I think everybody now acknowledges this fact -- that the security, the current security of the institutions are not ready to face the -- the threats that are facing us in Iraq. And it needs to be more active -- more structured to be able to face much more of the responsibility. I believe that there would be compromises along the line of security and on the formation and on the major positions in the country. We are trying now to find other substitutes where people can be and should be involved because we are still as we see it, all of us, we are still transitioning. And definitely this year is going to be a forecast for the transition of getting the American forces starting the drawdown and getting the Iraq forces to replace the American forces and securing this country. So everybody, I think, is ready for compromises, David.

Everybody? Including Nouri?

Normally Monday's snapshot notes Inside Iraq but yesterday there were too many problems (which is why the snapshot went up so late yesterday). On the most recent Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera), which began airing Friday, US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill was the guest.

Jasim Azawi: But the results of those elections are in jeopardy. Right now we just said that probably Ayad Allawi will not be called upon. There is -- I don't know what you'd call it. Call it conspiracy, call it an allegiance of forces, to cheat him out of his winning. So -- And that is going to throw the country into a dangerous zone. So I don't understand why would you be optimistic.

Chris Hill: Well, first of all, what those elections did was to establish which coalitions had which seats in the -- the Parliament, the Council of Representatives. So Ayad Allawi's coalition had 91 but you realize he needs another 64 seats if he's going to acheive a majority there. He needs to get to 163 and he only has 91 so he has 91, Maliki has 89, Maliki needs another 65. So the real question will be who's able to form a government, who's able to reach out to other coalitions. So -- uh -- Allawi can start with 91, but he's got a long way to go.

Actually, the real question is who the hell taught Chris Hill math. He is correct that 163 is the magic number. He's incorrect that 91 plus 64 reaches 163 (that would be 155) and he's incorrect that 89 plus 65 equal 163 (that would be 154). Who picked this lousy man to be the US Ambassador to Iraq? He can't even add simple figures. He's so stupid he can't even grasp that. If you think that's too harsh, grasp that whatever figure he thought he was adding to, Allawi has 91 seats and al-Maliki 89. He's saying to reach X (the same number for both men), Allawi needs 64 and al-Maliki need 65. If Nouri got 2 seats less than Allawi, it doesn't take a genius to realize that he would need 2 seats more than Allawi would need to reach magic number X -- whatever X is. (And, yes, 163 is the magic number.) Back to the program.

Jasim Azawi: And right now probably he is horse trading with other parties to come into a coalition and to form that government.

Chris Hill: Horse trading and everything else. I tell you, there's going to be a lot of cups of tea, a lot of cigarettes smoked by the time that process gets done.

Jasim Azawi: But one thing he did not do the others did and that is go to Tehran. It is ironic that Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq as well as the representative from al-Maliki's coalitions State of Law, a represenative from Iraqi National Alliance headed by Amar al-Hakim and a few other junior members they went to Tehran and most probably they were summoned by the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Quds Force to come and listen and get the orders from Tehran to form the government. You, the US, you no longer call the shots.

Chris Hill chuckled at that and then deflected the question about US influence. To his credit, he did get the name of the Justice and Accountability Committee correct. That's more than many news outlets can manage. (Western outlets tend to call it the "Accountability and Justice Committee.") And the plan is to note more of it today, however, there's an update to a point Jasim was making, Andrew England (Financial Times of London) reports that Allawi's slate has plans to meet with leaders in Iran on Wednesday.

Turning to the US, Caro of MakeThemAccountable notes:

The denials have been pretty weak.

Hillary for the court

by Brent Budowsky

Secretary of State Clinton would be the Super Bowl choice for Supreme Court justice. Like [retiring Justice John Paul] Stevens, she would almost certainly evolve into a kind of shadow chief justice. She would be a leader and pivot point for court liberals in the same way Stevens is, while Chief Justice John Roberts appears determined to move the court to the right, and reject judicial precedent that conservatives disapprove of, instead of shaping consensus among justices.

Secretary Clinton possesses an exceptionally rare combination of qualities for a Supreme Court justice. She is a legal authority in her own right on various areas of the law, both domestic and international. She has very high-level experience in both the legislative and executive branches. She has a very diverse set of life experiences, and the breadth of having reached out to the full range of people and cultures that constitute the American people and the American experience.

While gender should not be dispositive, it would be a plus for the court to have a third female justice. While religion should not be dispositive, her Protestant faith would offer diversity and depth to the court.

Above all, Secretary Clinton offers the kind of interpersonal skills and political savvy that make Justice Stevens such an important justice, and so hard to replace.

Also advocating for nominating Hillary to the Supreme Court are Ruth ("The Supreme Court") and Rebecca ("the supreme court"). And apologies to Rebecca. She has a mirror site. Cedric has a mirror site. This site has a mirror site. We have a mirror site because Blogger/Blogspot -- in ye olden days -- used to go down every other week. Cedric has a mirror site because he actually started his site on Blogdrive and then switched to Blogger/Blogspot. Rebecca has a mirror site because, due to her site's title, some schools are blocking it so she's got a different title at her mirror site. With the Iraq snapshot, they may cross-post it for me and I usually cross-post their entries to their mirror sites on Thursday nights since I'm cross-posting "I Hate The War." In addition, if they're ever too busy or too tired, they just leave an e-mail and I'll cross-post in the morning. But Rebecca (who e-mailed) apparently changed her password and I can't get her on the phone so I've had no luck cross-posting her entry at her mirror site. If you're a Rebecca reader who can't access her original site, blame me for the delay. My apologies.

In the US, Senator Byron Dorgan is the chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. which has done some outstanding work with regards to toxic exposure of service members and contractors serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dorgan will not be running for re-election to the Senate and it is a big loss. Click here to be taken to the DPC video page. And we'll include Senator Bill Nelson on unemployment program.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.