Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The post-election confusion continues

March 7th, Iraq ended voting in Parliamentary elections. The way it works, the prime minister is selected when someone has the support of at least 163 seat holders in the new Parliament. The winner of the elections was Ayad Allawi's slate which won 91 seats in the Parliament. Current prime minister Nouri al-Maliki's slate won 89 seats. To reach 163, either will have to form a power-sharing coalition with other blocs. Thus far, that hasnot happened and Nouri has thrown up a large number of roadblocks including, most recently, the demand for a Baghdad recount. UAE's the National Newspaper editorializes today:

Mr al Maliki held a slight edge over Mr Allawi in Baghdad. Should this lead widen, it could be enough to overcome his two-seat deficit to Mr Allawi. This would markedly increase his leverage in coalition negotiations, which, of course, is the point of the exercise.
It is noteworthy that Mr Allawi and his Iraqiyya coalition have all but disappeared from the news. The headlines from Iraq are dominated by news surrounding the deals and negotiations spearheaded by Mr al Maliki and the State of Law coalition. Despite Iraqiyya having eked out a victory in the elections, Mr al Maliki holds most of the cards.
For Mr Allawi to become prime minister, he must overcome the perception that he is merely a proxy for Sunnis. This is something that the third place coalition – the religious, Shiite Iraqi National Alliance (INA) – is particularly afraid of. The Kurds might be receptive, but not without concessions on the key city of Kirkuk, where Mr Allawi prevailed. He would be seen as betraying his Sunni allies if he gave it up to the Kurds.

The Watertown Daily Times notes of the Baghdad recount, "The court's ruling applied only to the Baghdad province but other challenges are pending that could expand the recount. Officials and international observers election fear delays could cause instability and violent repercussions." AP reports that the recount could begin as early as next week. Meanwhile David Rising (AP) reports that Ammar al-Hakim, leader of the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq, is expressing the opinion that the position of prime minister would be better filled by someone either than Allawi or al-Maliki, "We are talking about a person who should be accepted on a national level. This is the most important point because the prime minister is not going to be a prime minister of his own party or his political movement, but for all of Iraq . . . On such a basis, we find it's difficult for Mr. Maliki or even Mr. Ayad Allawi to gain the needed acceptance." Translation, as noted Sunday, Ibrahim al-Jaafari still has the momentum behind him to be prime minister. In post-invasion Iraq, the country has three prime ministers. The first was al-Jaafari, followed by Allawi and then al-Maliki. Nouri was a compromise candidate selected in April of 2006 only after the US said "NO!" to al-Jaafari who was the choice of the Iraqi government. Moqtada al-Sadr followed the March 7th vote with a referendum open to all (though the press believes only al-Sadr's supporters voted) to decide whom al-Sadr's Parliament bloc should back. al-Jaafari was the winner of that poll. al-Sadr's bloc holds 40 seats in the new Parliament, a formidable number. In addition, they are part of a bloc with ISCI and al-Hakim has repeatedly sent emmisarries to meet with al-Sadr since the March 7th elections.

Nouri (and puppets in the press) have attempted to make much out of the alleged deaths of terrorists in Iraq. Around the world, the reaction has been great skepticism. The Ethiopian Review notes this from the centrist Brookings Institute:

The announcement by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki that the two top leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq have been killed after a very long manhunt was greeted by many al Qaeda watchers with skepticism. The Iraqi government and the American military have claimed to have killed Abu Ayub al Masri, the Egyptian leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, more than once in the past. Abu Omar al Qureshyi al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda’s self proclaimed Islamic State in Iraq has also been reported dead or captured several times in the last few years. At other times the U.S. military has claimed he is not a real person but an invented one, a fictional leader of a fictional state.
If the claims are indeed true this time, expect al Qaeda to laud its martyrs publicly. It will be a serious but not fatal blow to al Qaeda in Iraq. The al Qaeda franchise in Iraq has been in retreat for the last four years -- ever since its founder Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed on June 7, 2006 by an American air raid. What is so astonishing is not that al Qaeda in Iraq is now in retreat, but rather how close it came in 2005 and 2006 to pushing Iraq into a civil war and defeatingthe American intervention in Iraq with very little real popular support in the country and a leadership composed largely of foreigners like Zarqawi, a Jordanian, and al Masri, an Egyptian.

By contrast, for a paid whore's view, click here and visit Gordo Lubold swinging it at the Christian Science Monitor. Remember, he's giving out handies real cheap today. And, for the record, Gordo, an operation dependent upon air support -- and one in which one US service member lost their life -- is not an Iraqi operation. Swing it under the street lamp all you want but we're not all johns and the bulk of us tend to look down on those of you who exist solely to spread social diseases.

Today in Iraq, Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing injured one police officer, two Baghdad roadside bombings injured five people, two corpses were discovered dumped in the Baghdad streets and a Baquba car bombing claimed 3 lives.

In the US, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee continues to highlight the economy and finances in a number of videos this week. Click here to be taken to the DPC video page. And we'll note this one by Senator Chris Dodd.


An army sergeant who had received 22 honors including a Combat Action Badge prior to being wounded in Iraq by a mortar shell was told he was faking his medical symptoms and subjected to abusive treatment until he agreed to a "personality disorder"(PD) discharge.
After a doctor with the First Cavalry division wrote he was out for "secondary gain," Chuck Luther was imprisoned in a six- by eight-foot isolation chamber, ridiculed by the guards, denied regular meals and showers and kept awake by perpetual lights and blasting heavy metal music---abuses similar to the punishments inflicted on terrorist suspects by the CIA.
"They told me I wasn't a real soldier, that I was a piece of crap. All I wanted was to be treated for my injuries," 12-year veteran Luther told reporter Joshua Kors of "The Nation" magazine (April 26th). "Now suddenly I'm not a soldier. I'm a prisoner, by my own people. I felt like a caged animal in that room. That's when I started to lose it." The article is called "Disposable Soldiers: How the Pentagon is Cheating Wounded Vets."
Luther had been seven months into his deployment at Camp Taji, 20 miles north of Baghdad, when a mortal shell exploded at the base of his guard tower that knocked him down, slamming his head into the concrete. "I remember laying there in a daze, looking around, trying to figure out where I was at," he said. Luther suffered permanent hearing loss in his right ear, tinnitus, agonizing headaches behind his right eye, severe nosebleeds, and shoulder pain.

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