March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted last month, "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 six months and ten days with no government formed.
The Tehran Times offers an article which opines:
Adil Abdul Mahdi as representative of the Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) will be prime minister. This important proviso – that he is selected as a representative of the SIC rather than the Iraqi National Alliance (which also includes the Sadrists) – is significant because it downgrades the weight of the Sadrists who control a little over half of the seats of the Iraqi National Alliance and who will probably be making unacceptable demands, including the one that the strategic agreement with the U.S. should be terminated, or that they should be assigned one of the two key security ministries – either defense or interior. The presidency will be assigned to al-Iraqiya, with one vice president to be offered to al-Maliki's State of Law.
The ministry of foreign affairs would most likely go to a Sunni politician, in an effort to bring Iraq back into the Arab fold.
The parliamentary speakership goes to the Kurdish alliance. They will be compensated for the loss of the office of the president with the highly significant ministry of oil. This will allow the Kurds greater flexibility in dealing with the oil extracted from their province and its sale, and reduce the conflict with the central government.
Asso Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) interviews KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih:
Q: Regarding forming the government, in one of your previous statements you have stated not forming the government is a disgrace, Why?
A: In fact, it is a shame…. We do not have a government that has emerged as a result of this [March] election. The country is exposed to serious terrorist attacks and crises in the basic services of electricity and water supply to the people. In normal circumstances, governments fall because of these problems and a new government comes. What is happening now is a major failure for the political elites in front of the Iraqi voter who challenged terrorism when he went to the ballot boxes and wanted to establish a new beginning for his country.
Q: Not forming the government, has it shown any kind of repercussion or side effects in terms of security and services?
A: There is no doubt that this situation negatively affects the security situation. The continuity of the problems and political quarrels represents an outlet for extremists and terrorists to destabilize security. Iraq’s security will not stabilize permanently without resolving unfinished political issues in the country and in particular the problem of the power-sharing between the main Iraqi components and bringing an Iraqi government supported by the general public to serve as an impervious dam against terrorists and extremists who are trying to defeat the emerging Iraqi experience.
Q: Do you think that the Iraqi public if the situation stays the same and the government isn’t formed will be forced to protest?
A: There are now demonstrations denouncing the government’s performance in the field of services. I think that the continuation of this situation would lead the current political elite to lose its credibility before the people.
On the issue of protests, Human Rights Watch notes:
Iraqi authorities should stop blocking peaceful demonstrations and arresting and intimidating organizers, Human Rights Watch said today. Iraqi security forces should also respect the right of free assembly and use only the minimum necessary force when violence occurs at a protest.
After thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in the summer of 2010 to protest a chronic lack of government services, Iraqi authorities cracked down on demonstrations. The Interior Ministry issued onerous regulations about public protests, and the prime minister's office apparently issued a secret order instructing the interior minister to refuse permits for demonstrations about power shortages. In the past few months, the government has refused to authorize numerous requests for public demonstrations, with no explanation. Authorities have also arrested and intimidated organizers and protesters, and policing actions have led to deaths and injuries. The clampdown has created a climate of fear among organizers and demonstrators.
"To take away the rights and freedoms Iraqis have been promised in exchange for all the suffering they have endured since the war is to add insult to injury," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. "When will Iraqi officials learn that silencing the voice of the people is only a formula for strife?"
In recent months, public frustration has mounted across Iraq at the government's inability to provide sufficient electricity and other basic services. With as little as a few hours of electricity a day in many areas, and with summer temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius, demonstrations broke out across the country in June. The protests in Basra culminated on June 19, when security forces killed two protesters and wounded two others after demonstrators tried to force their way into the provincial council building.
Still on the issue of the still-not-formed government, Tim Connolly (Dallas Morning News) reports the opinions former US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker expressed on Thursday:
Crocker, who stepped down as ambassador in 2009, said he is confident that Iraqi leaders will form a government "in the coming weeks," after months of deadlock. And he said he expects the new government to ask the U.S. to extend its military role there.
Such a request is needed, he said, because of the U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, which calls for all U.S. forces to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.
The Iraq War has not ended and may not anytime soon. Crocker's statements -- similar to ones he's already made repeatedly -- are also being made by Joe Biden and assorted others. But a news media desperate to spin 'the end' following Barack's August 31st speech hasn't been so eager to probe the meanings of such statements -- let alone the realities that combat operations have not ended. Bill Van Auken tackles that reality today in "Raid by US troops kills Iraqi civilians" (WSWS):
Two weeks after President Barack Obama proclaimed the end of the US “combat mission” in Iraq, a night raid by US troops in the city of Fallujah has claimed the lives of at least eight Iraqi civilians.
Wednesday’s raid provided one more indication that the US occupation of Iraq continues and American troops are still battling to suppress Iraqi resistance. While the US military has reduced its deployment in the country, the nearly 50,000 troops that remain are prepared for and are engaged in combat, the August 31 official deadline for an end to combat operations notwithstanding.
American military officials claim that the raid was aimed at killing or capturing a leading member of Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia, an insurgent group. Those killed, they say, were insurgents who fired on the joint US-Iraqi raiding party as it approached a house where the targeted individual was believed to be.
Both residents and local officials, however, strongly dispute this account. Fallujah’s police chief Brig. Gen. Faisal al Essawi told the AFP news agency that eight civilians were killed, including two women and two children. The casualties were confirmed by a local hospital.
Turning to today's reported violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad mortar attack (no known deaths or injuries), a Kirkuk bike bombing which claimed 2 lives and left nine people wounded and, dropping back to Friday, 2 Baghdad roadside bombings which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, injured six more and also wounded five by-standers. Reuters notes 2 Baquba raodside bombing which left six police officers injured and two by-standers, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and that the death toll in Hawija's bike bombing yesterday climed 4 and that the wounded is now number at seven.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead last night in Kirkuk. Reuters notes 1 person shot dead in Mosul.
The Institute for Public Accuracy notes:
Kors wrote the Nation cover story "Disposable Soldiers: How the Pentagon Is Cheating Wounded Vets."
Kors and Luther testified this morning before the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. Kors described Luther's testimony: "Medal-winning sergeant Chuck Luther described for the committee how he was tortured by the U.S. Army. Luther provided graphic details of his month confined to a closet at Camp Taji, Iraq, where he was pressed to sign fraudulent documents saying his mortar fire wounds were caused by a pre-existing 'personality disorder.'" Attributing injuries to "personality disorders" saves the military money in disability benefits and keeps casualty figures down. Added Kors: "Chairman Bob Filner (D-Calif.) referred to Luther's treatment as 'torture.' The ranking Republican, Steve Buyer (R-Ind.), stormed out of the hearing."
Kors states that "over 22,000 soldiers have been discharged with 'personality disorder' since 2001."
Listen to Kors and Luther in a recent BBC interview
For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167
Steve Buyer's storm out is covered in Wednesday's snapshot, Kat's "Steve Buyer's nuclear meltdown" and Thursday's snapshot. From the Sept 15th snapshot:
He had already launched into a tirade in the hearing prior to that but those were his exit lines as he stormed out of the hearing. (Before that Wednesday morning hearing, a markup hearing was held -- immediately before -- and Buyer launched a similar attack on US House Rep Debbie Halvorson where he all but screamed "You're an idiot!") The records in front of him, for those who missed the drama? He claimed to have documents on Chuck Luther but insisted his integrity wouldn't allow him to refer to them -- he repeatedly insisted that his integrity wouldn't allow him to refer to them. Repeatedly.
And we'll close with this from Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan's "Relentless Propaganda by Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox):
Recently, on MSNBC, we saw establishment critic (oops, only when a Republican is in office), Keith Olbermann call Karl Marx a “lousy thinker,” when even the most anti-Marxist in the world would have to concede that Marx was one of the most brilliant thinkers and political/social philosophers in modern history—anyway, that’s a little off the subject.
Currently, I am making a documentary film about Venezuela and President Chavez and the people’s revolution there called, the Bolivarian Revolution—and what happened on September 17th, is one of the reasons I am doing so. Of course, in making this film, I am obsessed with all things Venezuelan and all the news from and about the country and its charismatic president and that’s how this “news” item crossed my path—the headline:
(Extra, extra, read all about it!)
Well, we know in the past decade, that if the U.S. Military junta wants to invade a country, they start a demonization campaign that should have the requisite “nuclear component” in it—Iraq (WMD, “mushroom cloud”) and Iran are perfect current examples of nuclear-fear bullcrap.
Now look at that bold headline that appeared on CNN online on September 17th via the U.K. Guardian—if you were the average, casual consumer of the “news” and you had already had the stuffing propagandized out of you that Chavez is a “communist dictator” that “supports terrorism,” what would you automatically think? You would think exactly what the headline wants you to think—that Venezuela is in the market to make nuclear weapons by purchasing secrets from the undisputed champion of the manufacture and usage of nuclear weaponry: the USA. (We’re number one!)
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