At Baghdad's central morgue on Tuesday, a group of men carried away a bloodstained wooden coffin, and a mother mourned her son nearby. "Allawi is in the fridge," she shouted into a cellular phone, referring to her son Ali by his diminutive name.
A man who said he lost his son-in-law in the attack sobbed against the morgue's fence. He said he warned him not to respond to the Ministry of Defense's fresh recruitment drive.
"I told him it was all lies," said the man, who gave his name as Abu Abbas. "A rotten and stinky government; they only fight over power."
Atul Aneja (Hindu) observes, "Analysts point out that the significant spurt in Iraq violence in recent months can in large measure be attributed to the political vacuum after the March parliamentary elections."
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 11 days.
Last night, Flavia Krause-Jackson and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reported on Chris Hill ludicrous farewell conference. As they note, he pinned his hopes on Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani stepping in to end the political stalemate. Here's Hill talking about al-Sistani:
It's really hard to say. I mean, we know that he's following this issue on a daily basis. He obviously has a lot of wisdom about the political process. He knows it very well. He knows the players very well. All the players have gone and seen him. They're in constant communication with him. So I suspect that any role he can play, he’s playing. And I suspect that he is playing it in the best way he can to ensure that there's a positive outcome here. He believes -- and everybody agrees there, just about everybody agrees -- that when the government is finally formed, you will see Sunnis, Shia, and Kurds in that government together. You will see a government that’s very much balanced. When you look at the offers made to Iraqiya, they have been offered -- Iraqiya, as a party that -- where most of the Sunnis voted, you will see substantial offers of important positions there. So I think everyone understands the need to bring all, as they say in Iraq, components -- that is Kurds, Sunnis, and Shia -- together. And I think Sistani has made very clear his view on that and how he is conveying that view is probably best less to him -- left to him.
Not addressed in the press briefing was the rumors that the US government (via Jeffrey Feltman) has threatened the Iraqi officials with the declaration of a State of Emergency is the stalemate is not ended -- maybe that's an example of the "advise-and-assist role" Hill was blabbering away about.
"And that's why we monitor very closely this issue of Sons of Iraq and making sure that payments are being received and issues like that," Hill maintained in the press conference and no one challenged him on that -- even though the checks aren't coming and that's one of the reasons al Qaeda in Mesopotamia is allegedly trying to recruit from Sahwa.
Today Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reports on the Freedom City in Najaf, which the Mahdi Army vows they will fill up as they attack US forces should US forces not leave on December 31, 2011. That's the date in the Status Of Forces Agreement. Hill was asked about the treaty yesterday and replied:
Now, that overall Status of Forces Agreement extends till December 31st, 2011. That is the basis on which we have any forces in Iraq, and I think any future forces, any speculation about that, would have to depend on a new agreement, and there is no agreement right now. So the agreement that people are focusing on is the agreement that ends in 2011. So I’m not going to stand here and speculate what will happen in a year and a half from now, except that there needs to be a new Iraqi Government, they need to look at the implementation of the current agreement, and they need to look at what they see as necessary in the future after the expiration of the agreement.
Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) observes, "The fact that few have called the president on this as he trumpted the 'end' of the war is particularly troubling when the State Department is busily building a second US Army of its own that it plans to keep in Iraq for years after the next drawdown date, the one that was supposed to be etched in stone."
Today Reuters reports 3 people killed in Sadiya home invasions, a Tikrist roadside bombing claimed 2 lives (one more wounded), a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured four people, a second Baghdad roadside bombing injured two people and 1 corpse discovered in Mosul.
Idiot of the day -- possibly week -- is US Senator Barbara Boxer. Maeve Reston (Los Angeles Times) quotes Babara stating, "I am supporting bringing the troops home from Iraq and from Afghanistan, I don't believe we can have an open checkbook, and I believe it is very important to set some clear goals and timetables. That's what got us out of Iraq." That's what what? Got us out of Iraq? What world is Barbara living in? It's exactly those sort of remarks -- those stupid and uninformed remarks -- that have gotten her into so much trouble. In 2004, she won her race by a higher percentage than any other national politician that year -- as she was fond of bragging, unlike Bush, she had a mandate. This year she has to struggle and fight just to hold onto what should be an easy seat for Democrats. Her inability to concentrate on the Iraq War -- first noted on her last book tour when she was unaware that Nouri al-Maliki had been on a trip to DC approximately one week prior -- has hurt her standing. She's gone from one of my state's most popular political figures to an embarrassment. Team Boxer needs to get to work on drilling the candidate so she's informed before she speaks to the press.
"That's what got us out of Iraq"? What a moron. The US isn't out of Iraq. (And won't be anytime soon.)
In the real world, World Can't Wait is getting the word out on an upcoming action:
We received this notice from people planning protests with the 3rd Battalion is sent to Iraq next week. Some of you may have heard about this upcoming action during the webcast we did a couple weeks ago.
This is a nation-wide call to action! Come to Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 22 to participate in peaceful actions with veterans and anti-war leaders opposing the deployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's 5,000 Soldiers to Iraq. This is your invite. Can you attend?
Despite President Obama's fallacious claims that the war in Iraq is winding down, the 3rd ACR is gearing up for yet another deployment! Furthermore, many Soldiers facing deployment are known to be unfit for combat due to injuries sustained in prior tours. The Peace Movement must not let this stand!
The Soldiers of the 3rd ACR and the people of Iraq need you to be here Aug. 22. This will be a RADICAL demonstration, with optional direct action elements and possible legal implications. While all are welcome to participate at whatever level they are comfortable, we value greatly those willing to put their bodies on the line.
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