Friday, July 16, 2010

The political stalemate continues

Trend News Agency reports Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi's adviser Khalil Azraa is stating the US has not done enough to resolve the political stalemate in Iraq and quotes him stating, "The U.S. can exert political pressure on the formation of the government, because it is responsible for building democracy in Iraq." Tariq al-Hashimi is a member of Iraqiya, in fact, he is, after Ayad Allawi, probably the most prominent member of Iraqiya (especially post-purge by Ahmed Chalabi and Ali al-Lami).

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. Today makes it four months and nine days without any government being established.

Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) offers this take on the stalemate:

Two weeks ago, the media went into high alert when Maliki and Allawi met to sort out their differences - their second meeting since March. It amounted to nothing. Hassan Sneid, a member of parliament (MP) from Maliki's team, said that no deal had been reached and that the importance of the meeting "had been exaggerated" by observers.
An MP for Allawi's list, Maysoun al-Damaluji, added, "The meeting did not discuss details about presidency or ministerial posts." Many began asking: "If division of power and a solution were not on the two men's agenda on June 29, then what exactly did Allawi and Maliki talk about in Baghdad?"
One possible scenario is that Maliki used the meeting with Allawi to scare his Shi'ite allies into accepting him as prime minister. Otherwise, he seemed to be saying, "I will turn my back on you and form a cabinet with him." The two men combined, after all, would share a bloc of 180 deputies, giving them the needed majority to form a cabinet. One solution would be to make Maliki prime minister and appoint Allawi as his deputy, or vice-versa.
The real meeting, therefore, should have been between Maliki and leaders of the INA, to see whether what united them as a Shi'ite bloc was stronger than what divided them as individual politicians.
As all parties bicker among themselves, the US is preparing to cut its troops in Iraq to 50,000 by the end of this summer - a major reduction from the 165,000 in 2007.

Meanwhile Turkey is forming new relationships to tackle the PKK (a Kurdish group which is in a battle for self-autonomy and resorts to violence leading it to be labeled a terrorist organization by many governments including Turkey, the US and Iraq). As noted in yesterday's snapshot, they want to pull together a 'professional military' with neighbors Syria and Iran (even floating the thought of that sent panic through the US White House) to combat the PKK. Xinhua notes (link has text and video) that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip "Erdogan said Turkey had mobilized all resources to fight terrorism, and was holding talks with executives of the European Union (EU), Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia and the United States. Erdogan also said around 150 mini unmanned aircraft, manufactured by local resources, were joining the fight against terrorism, adding that a ceremony would be held later on Friday to launch the first local-manufactured unmanned aircraft."

Tim Arango (New York Times) reports 29 dead in Sulaimaniya hotel fire. Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News -- link has text and video) reports forty were also injured and that some of the dead "died jumping from their windows to escape the flames". Zhang Xiang (Xinhua) reports the death toll is up to 43 and "many of the dead were from Bangladesh, Phillipine and Thailand, said the [local police] source, adding four Americans were among the dead." Al Jazeera notes that the death toll flucuates based on the governmental source and quotes their correspondent Rawya Rageh stating, "There is still confusion over the exact death toll -- but we know that the dead include Americans, Europeans, Koreans, Bangladeshis, Arab nationals and various other nationalities."

Tim King (Salem-News) offers a photo essay on Afghanistan.

TV notes. On PBS' Washington Week, Dan Baltz (Washington Post), Eamon Javers (CNBC), Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) join Gwen around the table. Gwen now has a weekly column at Washington Week and the current one is "Entering the 'Twitterverse'." This week, Bonnie Erbe will sit down with Karen Czarnecki, Avis Jones-DeWeever, Nicole Kurokawa and Patricia Sosa 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 online bonus is a discussion onf 'Facebook fanatics.' Need To Know is PBS' new program covering current events. This week's hour long broadcast (Fridays on most PBS stations -- but check local listings) will feature "Congressional Oversight Panel chairwoman Elizabeth Warren on the possibility that a national commercial real-estate foreclosure crisis may occur, and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency." And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Golf Company
Scott Pelley spends time with a U.S. Marine company battling the enemy in Helmand Province, sent there as part of President Obama's troop buildup in Afghanistan. | Watch Video

Penelope Cruz
In a rare interview, the Spanish starlet opens up about her life, career and childhood. Charlie Rose reports.

Guiding Light
Morley Safer interviews the actors and writers behind broadcasting's longest running drama, "Guiding Light," as they celebrate the soap opera's incredible run and discuss its cancellation after 72 years. | Watch Video

60 Minutes, Sunday, July 18, 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 OPINION roundup -- columnists are not reporters) by Matthew Continetti (Weekly Standard), E.J. Dionne (Washington Post), Dayo Olopade (Daily Beast). For the second hour (international), she's joined by Nadia Bilbassy (MBC TV), Youchi Dreazen (National Journal) and David Ignatius (Washington Post).

We'll close with this from Never Forgive Never Forget's "Democrat Obama Attempts to Murder Elderly Atty Stewart with 10 year Sentence" (Indy Bay Media):

Are you still registered Democrat? On July 15, 2010, in the same courthouse where the Rosenbergs were sentenced to death on false charges and Morton Sobell sentenced to what became 19 years in prison on equally false charges all framed by Democrat Harry Truman , 70 year old people's lawyer with serious health problems, Lynne Stewart was resentenced by fascist Judge Koetel, at the behest of Democrats Obama & Holder, his attorney general, to 10 years in prison, a virtual death sentence for a 70 year old on the false claim that she is a "terrorist," when in fact it is the American government that is the world's terrorist, with no equal. Lynne Stewart did not commit any crime whatsoever. As she says, this is an attempt to silence people's lawyers, just like Nazi Germany did.

Political prisoner Lynne Stewart is among the topics on Democracy Now! today. Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman and Petra Bartosiewicz discuss yesterday's travesty of justice. And click here for Petra's column on Lynne published before the judge ruled yesterday.

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