Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Continued war, continued stalemate

If Iranian war planes crossed Iraq's eastern border today, a fleet of Cessnas and a handful of Russian helicopters is all the Iraqi military would be able to muster in response. Instead, Iraq's de facto air defense -- the U.S. Air Force -- would likely scramble fighters to meet the threat.
As the U.S. rapidly pulls out troops with an eye toward complete withdrawal by the end of next year, this uncomfortable fact remains: The Iraqi military is nowhere near ready to defend its borders.
"I'm not sure Iraqis will be able to assume all of the security responsibilities they need to by the time U.S. troops pull out," said Omar al-Shahery, an Iraq expert at the RAND Corporation and a former deputy director general of defense at Iraq's Ministry of Defense.

The above is from Heath Druzin and Teri Weaver's "Barely off the ground: Iraqi Air Force not ready to defend nation" (Stars and Stripes) and familiarize yourself with that argument because, if and when Iraq finally forms a government, that's the argument the US government will trot out as they try to extend the US military presence in Iraq beyond 2011. And if they attempt to pass that off as a no-one-could-have-guessed-bit, tell Barack he's worse than Condi. Check the archives, this issue has been a known since 2007.

And in other things that were known, Republicans are gearing up to for Iraq in 2012. It's already a 2010 issue for one Republican candidate. Ashley Parker (New York Times) opens her report on a tight race with:

Mike Fitzpatrick was talking about Iraq -- to make the point that no one, these days, is talking about Iraq.
"You don't hear a lot of people asking, 'How are we doing in Iraq?'" said Mr. Fitzpatrick, a Republican trying to recapture the suburban Philadelphia House seat he lost in 2006 after one term to Patrick J. Murphy, a Democrat and the first Iraq war veteran elected to Congress. "I believe ultimately the 2010 election will be a referendum on the administration, and Murphy is in lock step with the Obama administration."

When a Republican friend in the Senate outlined how Republicans would use Chris Hill as a vote getter, I said I was going to write about it (and I did in April 2009) and, surprisingly, he didn't care. After it went up here, he laughed that Democrats were too dumb to save themselves. Whether that's true or not, a large number have certainly become the new Bush-ites -- swallowing and repeating each lie about the Iraq War just because it comes from the ass they admire. Long gone is the so-called reality-based community. Fitzpatrick's running against Patrick Murphy. That will certainly be a telling race -- far beyond the issue of who wins and loses, it will lay the groundwork for many 2012 races.

Meanwhile the Iraq Inquiry just entered joke-status even for those of us who were waiting for the report to be issued before making a judgment. They announce their Iraq visit and it's nothing like what Chair John Chilcot led people to believe when he twice publicly -- in hearings -- floated the notion that the Inquiry would visit Iraq. When doing that, they were going to speak to Iraqis, they were going to find out about suffering, etc. In fact, all they did was speak to a bunch of Iraqi exiles who returned to the country with US-backing after the US invaded and the exiles were then promptly installed into government positions. You will find no Iraqi victim, you will find the likes of Ahmed Chalabi and other well known crooks and liars. They've made a mockery of themselves and wasted a great deal of money because the exiles are regularly in the West attempting to drum up more cash -- translation, there was no reason to go to Iraq to interview the likes of Ahmed, you just had to wait for him to come to you with the collection plate. (He was just recently in DC for that purpose.)

Alsumaria TV reports that Islamic Supreme Council head Ammar al-Hakim is in Egypt meeting with President Husni Mubarak to discuss issues such as "the formation of a new [Iraqi] government." DPA notes his visit follows that of Ayad Allawi. al-Hakim's party is part of the Iraqi National Alliance, however, he has not issued a statement of support for Nouri the way Moqtada al-Sadr has.

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 seven months and five days and counting.

Robert Dreyfuss (The Nation) reports that a counter-effort is taking place since the Nouri-Moqtada alliance was made public:

In a meeting on Tuesday, the Iraqiya bloc, the Sunni-secular party led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, held a tumultuous meeting at which Iraqiya decided to throw its support behind a rival candidate for prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, according to an Iraqi source who took part in the Iraqiya deliberations. More than seven months after the March 7 election, Abdul Mahdi and Allawi hope to establish a coalition to govern Iraq, toppling Maliki, isolating Sadr and bringing the Kurds into their alignment. Allawi and Abdul Mahdi will travel to the Iraq’s Kurdish region to meet with Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader and most important power broker for the Kurds, to get his support.

For more on the Nouri-Moqtada alliance, refer to Leila Fadel's Washington Post report. And Today's Zaman reports, "Diyala Governor Abdul Nasser Al Mahdawi and Kirkuk Governor Abdul Rahman Mustafa have said Iraq’s ongoing political stalemate is causing enormous difficulties for local government in the war-torn country. The two governors, who have been in İstanbul, visited the Zaman Media Group on Monday and commented on the recent political deadlock in Iraq."

A few friends who work on the issue of Iraqi refugees and US asylum have been upset with my critique of Barack Obama on this issue and insisted the new president would issue new guidelines and set new quotas. The 'new' president is no longer so new and what do we have? Courthouse News Service reports Barack sent a memo to the State Dept noting that the figure of Iraqi refugees for next year would be 80,000. For those not aware, Bully Boy Bush went out of office with the figure at 70,000. Translation, Barack Obama is no friend to Iraqi refugees and it's time to stop confusing his pretty words with how he actually governs.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan offers "Memo to Nancy Pelosi from Cindy Sheehan" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox):

You are going to become a lame duck Speaker early next month when your party loses its majority—now don’t think I am thrilled that the Republicans are returning to a majority, at least in your House, because I think your party and the GOP are just different sides of the same coin—but you can’t say I didn’t warn you back in 2006 that if you and your party didn’t end the wars and hold BushCo accountable that your euphoria would be short-lived.
I literally brought that warning home to you in 2008 when I stood for election against you as an Independent in your district. I again tried to send you the gift of a wake up call through my platform and candidacy that ending the wars;, increasing jobs here in the US; fully funding education; protecting people’s homes from eviction and foreclosure; protecting the environment from destruction; and justice for war crimes were what the people wanted. Nancy, your party’s impending defeat proves that if you ever were in touch with “the people,” that time passed long before you assumed the Speaker’s gavel and when you relinquish the gavel, you will be just another empty lavender pants suit—an obscenely expensive lavender pants suit, but empty all the same.
So you can’t say that I didn’t warn you and your colleagues that the people shouldn’t be ignored. I now realize that the warning fell on deaf ears and was futile, but also that the political game your party and the other party play are far more important to you than the people of this world are, anyway.
With the elections rapidly approaching on November 2, you once again are up for re-election yourself and the people of San Francisco will dutifully obey their Democratic impulses and send you back to DC one more time, no matter how atrocious you have been, (The question of the day, though, Nan, is when you lose your Speakership will you resign your seat? Hey, I know! Maybe you and your good buddy, George Bush, can have play dates in your mutual retirements?) but you do have opponents. I know of two for sure, the firmly antiwar Republican, John Dennis and the firmly antiwar and anti-Capitalist Peace and Freedom Candidate Gloria La Riva.

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