Saturday, September 04, 2010

Stalemate continues, Tony's 'welcomed' in Dublin

MARGARET WARNER: Haiem Mahdi al-Shatri, who's been selling books here for more than 50 years, can't understand how a civilization that brought written language to the world has spawned such unworthy leaders.

HAIEM MAHDI AL-SHATRI, bookseller (through translator): It's a game they're playing with us. Is it logical that no one could form a government? For the last seven years, what have Iraqis benefited from their government? Nothing.

MARGARET WARNER: Iraqis voted in parliamentary elections nearly six months ago. No party won a majority, and, ever since then, the four leading parties have been tussling over how to form a new government.

Iraq's former Deputy U.N. Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi:

FEISAL ISTRABADI, former deputy Iraqi ambassador to United Nations: The wrangling has not been over policy or over principle. It's simply a matter of who occupies the seat of power. It's a personal -- almost a personal dispute, in which, I must say, the interests of the country come a distant second.

The above is from last night's NewsHour (link has text, video and audio) on the political stalemate. And before we get to the statlemate, The Rundown (NewsHour blog) notes:

Senior correspondent Margaret Warner wrapped up her week of Iraq reports on Friday with an in-depth look at the country's vexing electricity challenges. Watch her past reports on the U.S. troop drawdown, security concerns and political stalemate.

Now to the political 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 27 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.

John Zogby is and forever will be a f**king joke. He's that because he attacks Republicans but looks the other way for Democrats while pretending to be opposed to the Iraq War. A number of people are sending Idiot Zogby's column to the public account. We're not interested in hucksters. The Iraq War was illegal, yes, but it also REMAINS illegal and I'm not in the mood for Zogby giving his 'brother' a pass. Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan doesn't play that game and we'll note this from her "Page Turning, etc" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox):

Was Bush the main criminal from the 2001-2008 years? No, he was only the figurehead criminal just as Obama is, but I will NEVER give up my quest to hold BushCo responsible for the deaths of over one million people—for the torture of thousands—for the destruction of infrastructure (at home and abroad)—for the abuse of power—for lying—and for committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Justice has to begin somewhere, and it might as well begin with George Bush.

I will NEVER stop trying to hold ObamaCo accountable for its crimes, either—nor the next U.S. administration.

There cannot be healing without justice—there is only this stubborn amnesia that We the American people impose on ourselves that allows the Mis-Rulers to keep committing their unrepentant and unpunished crimes.

It doesn’t matter if I turn the page—all the pages in the future have my dead son written all over them—I can skip to the last page, and if I can’t read anything else, Casey’s needless and untimely death will always be carved into the millions of pieces of my broken heart.

And Casey and I are just two of millions.

And by the way, Barack—I am not “turning the page” on my opposition to the continued occupation of Iraq, nor the escalating violence in Afghanistan until every last one of our troops/contractors/war profiteers are back on U.S. soil.

The War Hawks need to be held accountable and, today in Dublin, one was. AP reports that Tony Blair showed up to sign his memoir I Helped Kill Millions But Found Love In Bush and was pelted with shoes and eggs. There's no reports of injuries so apparently all the eggs and shoes hit Blair in the head. Staying with England, Chris Ames raises issues about the Iraq Inquiry at the Guardian:

How complacent is the Iraq inquiry chairman, Sir John Chilcot? On the second day of the inquiry's public hearings, he told a Foreign Office witness: "We have a very detailed account in the Hutton inquiry report of the construction of the dossier, almost line by line, and I don't think there is any need for this inquiry simply to rehearse that."

Except that the Hutton inquiry's very detailed account of the construction of the September 2002 WMD dossier omits two drafts produced by spin doctors. It does not mention the John Williams draft dossier released two years ago or the draft that was produced at the beginning of June 2002 by the Coalition Information Centre (CIC), authors of the really dodgy February 2003 dossier. It says absolutely nothing about the involvement of the CIC – a propaganda unit set up by Alastair Campbell to promote the UK's involvement in the "war on terror".

I published the CIC draft today on the Iraq Inquiry Digest website and put it into context in a piece for Index on Censorship. It is dated 3 June 2002 and was circulated three days later. It is the earliest draft dossier ever published.

Essentially, the significance of the draft is that it precedes and is virtually identical to the draft given to the Hutton inquiry as the starting point for the document published in September 2002. But the government didn't tell Hutton that someone had cabinet sceptic Clare Short down to sign the dossier's introduction – without asking her.

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