Andrew England (Financial Times of London) reports that State Of Law and Iraqiya are supposed to begin talks again today and that the break off in talks over Nouri al-Maliki's assertion (on state TV) that Iraqiya was a "Sunni" party/slate have been mitigated by an elaboration/explanation on Nouri's part. For those late to the party, March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 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. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 15 days. Phil Sands (National Newspaper) notes that if the stalemate continues through September 8th, it will then be a half a year since Iraqis voted.
Talks have broken off before and may again. Meanwhile the Voice of Russia reports that Ayad Allawi is supposed to make a trip to Russia shortly to, in the words of an Iraqiya spokesperson, "establish trust relations between Iraq and its friends." In other scheduled news, the Post-Chronicle reports that US Vice President Joe Biden, the public face for the administration on Iraq, is set to speak to the Veterans of Foreign Wars today on the issue of Iraq. In anticipation news, everyone's chattering about the speech President Barack Obama may or may not give on August 31st (after he comes of his vacation) which may or may not be on Iraq. Jake Tapper (ABC News) has the best rundown of what may be going on.
The New York Times notes the death of a US soldier yesterday (this is the death noted last night). Meanwhile Peter McKay (Daily Mail) reports "Iraq's still suffering as Blair cashes in:"
Doesn't the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath involve war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious violations of international law?
Wasn't it illegal? The architects of the Iraq invasion - George W. Bush and Tony Blair - are apparently immune from prosecution, even though they conspired to avoid seeking a tricky Un resolution backing the war and produced dud dossiers on Saddam's non-existent WMDs. They have the full protection of their nations while enjoying prosperous retirements.
On September 1, Blair will publish a memoir, A Journey, which is said to be a love letter to his 'highly intelligent' and 'visionary friend' George W. Bush. Yesterday, it was reported that Blair has now established his own investment bank.
In Iraq, Saad Abdul-Kadir (AP) reports at least 3 people died in Baghdad "overnight and early Monday" and at least twenty more were left injured. And Mohammed Tawfeeq and CNN add to what is known about the escape of the only person convicted in the kidnapping and murder of CARE International worker Margaret Hassan in 2004:
[Deputy Justice Minister Busho] Ibrahim said officials did not know of al-Rawi's escape until a month ago. The British Embassy last month said Foreign Secretary William Hague spoke of the matter to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. "Mr. Zebari assured Mr. Hague that the Iraqi government were aware of the case and were keen to ensure justice," an embassy statement said.
A spokesman for Hassan's family said in a statement last month that al-Rawi had been due in court July 16 as part of an appeal against his conviction. Concern was growing over his fate, as he had missed some earlier hearings, the statement said. The court was told he had escaped in an "incident."
"Jassar is known to be part of the gang that kidnapped and killed my sister," said Deirdre Manchanda, Hassan's sister, in the statement. "We have fought for justice for six years, only to find that not one member of this gang can be brought to justice."
Hassan's family only wants to know where her remains are and bring them home for burial, she said. "We can only ever hope to do that if he is recaptured and brought back to face justice."
Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Out Of Touch President" went up last night. Law and Disorder grades President Barack Obama on today's broadcast -- streams online at the program's website begins airing at 10:00 a.m. today on WBAI and on other radio stations throughout the week.
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