Tuesday, September 07, 2010

The political stalemate, the continued violence

Gabriel Gatehouse (BBC News) reports that Nouri al-Maliki's ally Hussein al-Shahristani is arguing that the political stalemate is encouraging the violence such as the attacks Sunday on the Iraqi military base while "a small group of activists and politicians gathered outside the Iraqi parliament" today to register their objection to the stalemate. 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 30 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. Khalid al-Ansary, Serena Chaudhry, Michael Christie and Samia Nakhoul (Reuters) report that Allwi is stating that, "I hope in Ocotber some time, late October (things will be sorted out)." Allawi also states that he is fine with someone else from Iraqiya becoming prime minister.

Alsumaria TV reports, "Allawi pointed out to two main pending points in coalition talks namely the position of prime minister and the question of who had the right to form the next government. Allawi said it was important to divide power amongst all political blocs in Iraq's fledgling democracy." Today Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports that news from the Aswat al-Iraq outlet states that Nouri al-Maliki refuses to step aside as candidate for prime minister for State of Law and that the Iraqi National Alliance is standing behind (current Shi'ite vice president) Adel Abdel Mahdi but the two groups, allegedly, have agreed to take a vote and go with whichever candidate receives 65% of the vote. Not addressed is what happens if no one receives 65%. Going into the March elections, for those who've forgotten, Nouri insisted he would win by a huge margin. He did not win. By any margin. Despite having many in the press call the election for him before the votes were even counted (for example, Quil Lawrence of NPR). Meanwhile Alsumaria TV notes that some members of the Iraqi National Alliance was at the home of Ahmed Chalabi addressing the issue of the stalemate and that the meeting stressed the need "to preserve unity within the national alliance." Michael Christie (Reuters) adds, "Shi'ite Iran, which exerts considerable influence over many Iraqi Shi'ite leaders after housing them for years when they were exiled under Saddam, is also pushing for a united front."

Unity? The only consistent fabric in Iraqi life is the ongoing violence. Today Reuters reports a Samarra home invasion in which 3 family members were murdered "execution style," and, dropping back to Monday night, 2 corpses discovered in Kirkuk and 2 police officers injured in a Baghdad shooting. Alsumaria TV reports, "Religious programs anchor on Al Iraqiya Satellite TV network and head of Al Sheala District Riyad Al Saray was killed by unknown gunmen in central Baghdad." Meanwhile Azzaman attempts to sort through the attack Sunday on the Iraqi military base:

The aftermath of the attack shows chaos all over the government, both civilian and military ranks.
Nobody for sure can tell whether the attackers were suicide bombers, used car bombs or simply foot rebels from al-Qaeda who wanted to show how intrepid they have become.
Even our own newspaper which has reporters in almost every corner in Baghdad published two totally different reports about the battle.
Our international edition said they were suicide bombers but the domestic edition said it was a coordinated attack by foot rebels who stormed the building and had backing from snipers in nearby houses and streets.
The international edition’s copy was based on a Reuters report which could not independently be confirmed. The local edition was based on stringers on the scene and eyewitnesses.
Our local reporters on the ground say there were at least 20 attackers and no car or suicide bombs.
It is always easy in Iraq to blame suicide bombers and the government is usually happy with the version.
But to say that the attackers inflicted heavy losses on the army base and all managed to escape the scene unscathed is too big for the faltering government to swallow.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Now He's Soaking In It" went up Monday as did Kat's "Kat's Korner: Last Decade's Buried Treasure" and "Kat's Korner: The exclusion of Cher" and Marcia posted "Rachel Ambramowitz bad and sexist book" at her site and Mike posted "Labor Day" at his site.

Be sure to check out this James Foley's Raw Story article. And we'll close with Workers World's editorial "Iraq's resistance stands up:"

From the point of view of the U.S. government and the Pentagon, the U.S. has begun to wind down its military occupation of Iraq, now in the middle of its eighth year. But Washington intends to keep control of Iraq’s oil and foreign policy with a string of military bases, a supersized embassy complete with its own mercenary army, and a puppet government dependent on U.S. military, economic and diplomatic backing.

In the meantime these seven-plus years of occupation have destroyed much of Iraq, slaughtering its people and devastating its culture and its scientific and technical leadership. The occupation has divided Iraq along ethnic and sectarian fault lines as never before, and it left the city of Falluja poisoned with cancer-producing substances.

That the U.S. invasion has brought much pain and suffering to Iraq is indisputable. What is missing from the above picture, however, is one essential thing: the indomitable determination of the Iraqi people and nation to regain their sovereignty.

With U.S. troops leaving the country or staying safely within their well-protected bases, elements apparently from the Iraqi resistance launched 34 attacks in 16 cities on Aug. 25. Some 31 of the 55 people killed were members of the puppet police and security forces. It was clear that the Iraqi resistance that had prevented the U.S. from a clean takeover of Iraq is still around, still a force on the ground. More cities were hit at the same time than had ever been hit before, with police headquarters, checkpoints and government offices being the main targets.

Soon after the initial U.S.-British occupation in April 2003, George Bush claimed “mission accomplished.” The fighting seemed over, but soon this illusion became a nightmare. Former army officers and many others grouped fighters around themselves who began to make life hell for the occupation army. The vast majority of Iraqis would simply not submit to imperialist rule.

President Barack Obama, who was elected partly based on his promise to leave Iraq, is on the verge of making a speech on Aug. 31 to the county explaining the withdrawal. The early word on Obama’s speech is that the president will avoid the triumphant tone that got Bush into trouble. But no amount of intelligent words can cover up a policy of military aggression that has left the U.S. with only enemies and ineffective puppets in Iraq.

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