Monday, September 13, 2010

The stalemate and the violence

Starting with the continued political stalemate in Iraq. 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 six months and six days with no government formed.

Friday came news that the US government was pushing a plan that would ignore Iraqi law including the Constitution. Today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's editorial board weighs in:

Now U.S. officials have jumped into the fray and proposed a reasonable -- but American -- compromise to Iraq's political logjam. Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki, who has refused to acknowledge his coalition's loss in March, would remain in power, but with diminished authority. He would share power with a coalition that would include representatives from Iraqi groups other than his Shiites.
This would be a reasonable solution to the "no government" issue, but the problem is that it's an American solution -- which will probably mean that many Iraqis will oppose it. If the American idea moves from being proposed to being imposed, as might be the case in a country that still has 50,000 U.S. troops, following a seven-year occupation, then it will truly be doomed.

Gulf News' editorial board sounds
a note of regret and resignation: "The United States' efforts to help form a new government in Iraq may be needed, after more than six months of wrangling among rival factions. However, it is unfortunate that the Iraqis need the intervention of the US administration to get an agreement. This is obviously indicative of the political immaturity of the ruling establishment." There are some who tie the increase in violence to the ongoing political stalemate. Gulf Times notes of yesterday's violence, "Eight people, including three militants, were killed in Iraq yesterday, mostly in clashes between security forces and insurgents. Iraqi forces, assisted by US warplanes, carried out a military operation targeting a group said to be Al Qaeda militants in the town of Al Hadid, some 65km northeast of Baghdad. Government forces said they came under heavy fire from surrounding areas, resulting in clashes with insurgents which lasted for more than seven hours near the town, in Diyala province." Timothy Williams (New York Times) notes the continued combat role of US troops referencing the efforts Gulf Times mentions and adding, "The United States military did not confirm its role in the fighting. An American military spokeswoman said Sunday in an e-mail that she was awaiting 'releasable information.' But Iraqi military and civilian officials said American helicopters and some ground troops had taken part after Iraqi forces requested assistance. The Iraqis had come under fire while raiding Sunni insurgent hide-outs in the agricultural area." Richard Serrao refuses to buy into the lie that the Iraq War has ended and writes the Carroll County Times:

Approximately 50,000 troops will remain to train Iraqi security forces, and to protect America's interests, including the largest U.S. Embassy in the world. At 104 acres, that's about 80 football fields. With that many troops still stationed in and around Iraq, plus the addition of tens of thousands of individual contractors still working there, I'd call this a troop reduction, and not be celebrating the end of the U.S.'s involvement in a war that we started. We're going to be there a long, long time.

Meanwhile Xinhua reports violence continues in Iraq today with an attack outside Buhruz in which 1 person was killed and another was left injured, a bombing outside Mandely which injured three peooople, a Baquba roadside bombing which injured 2 people including on Sahwa member and, "Also in the province, U.S helicopters at dawn opened fire on the rural area of al-Hadeed, west of Baquba. The area is believed to be a stronghold of insurgents, the source said without giving further details." Reuters adds 1 police officer was shot outside his Baghdad home and, dropping back to last night, "a guard of the Baghdad governorate building" was shot dead last night.

And along with violence, there are the conditions that arise because of it. Azzaman's editorial board notes the demographic change in Iraq as a result of the war, "One in every six Iraqis is an orphan. That is the toll Iraqi children are paying in a country which is supposedly under the occupation and protection of the world's only superpower. Not all the orphans are the result of the violence that swept the country in the aftermath of the 2003-U.S. invasion. But the invasion has caused untold miseries for Iraqis, surpassing those inflicted on them by their former tormentors, the clique that ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein. There were unconfirmed reports that Iraq has turned into a country of orphans. But the exact figure only became a reality recently, when the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs made public its own statistics."

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: Heart's smooth ride" went up yesterday as did Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Time To Wizz."

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