Monday, October 18, 2010

WikiLeaks and stalemates

Press speculation abounds that today's the day WikiLeaks releases some of their Iraq War documents. Nothing thus far and the page states (as it did on Friday): "WikiLeaks is currently under[g]oing scheduled maintenance. We will be back online as soon as possible." From their Twitter feed, these are the five most recent Tweets:

  1. How propaganda is spread: WikiLeaks edition | Salon
  2. Read closely: NATO tells CNN not a single case of Afghans needing protection or moving due to leak
  3. FBI agent says WikiLeaks could have been used to stop 9/11 | FOX
  4. Carefully the comments here to understand where Aftergood and his like are coming from
  5. Pentagon caught telling US Senate Committee Afghan leak "mostly harmless" back on Aug 16

As the press waits to see what WikiLeaks is going to do, the world waits to see what Iraq is going to do. March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board noted in August, "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 eleven days and counting.

As Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, Nouri al-Maliki is in Iran today where he "will meet with senior Iranian officials to discuss various issues of importance for both countries". BBC News notes, "The visit is bound to be overshadowed by the political struggle back home to form a new government, our Baghdad correspondent Jim Muir says." Tawfeeq notes Allawi's interview that aired on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS yesterday:

"We know that unfortunately Iran is trying to wreak havoc on the region, and trying to destabilize the region by destabilizing Iraq, and destabilizing Lebanon and destabilizing the Palestinian issue," Allawi said.
The region is "falling victim" to terrorist groups backed financially by Iran, he said.

Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) adds
, "Mr Allawi is currently fighting for his political life. After winning 91 seats out of 325 in the election, two more than the State of Law coalition of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, he insisted on the right to try to form a government. However, State of Law, a largely secular Shia grouping, turned instead to other Shia parties. Last month, it announced an alliance with the Sadrist block, the violently anti-American religious party led by a radical cleric, Moqtada al-Sadr." An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers reports at Inside Iraq:

Almost eight months passed since the parliamentary election and the winning parties did not form the new government and DEMOCRACY is the main reason. Although our GREAT POLITICAL LEADERS always confirm that they do not accept any interference in the Iraqi affairs, they continuously visit the neighboring countries asking for the support for their parties to form the government. Each group wants to satisfy the governments of the neighboring countries and to convince them that they are best to lead Iraq. During their competition to win more political positions and gains, our politicians completely forgot one fact. Democratic politicians are those who can satisfy their people not the neighboring countries.

Reuters notes
1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Mosul, a Baghdad sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 Ministry of Oil employee and left a second person injured, 1 man was shot dead in a Mosul home raid, a Baghdad mortar attack injured two people and a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the life of Jassem Moahmmed and injured eight other people.
Now try to follow this if you can. On WBAI, Law and Disorder Radio airs Mondays at 9:00 a.m. EST. Usually. If the station is in fundraising mode -- which it is all month -- then the program can start at 10:00 a.m. and the hosts can be on for two hours during the bulk of which they fund raise for the station. So today on WBAI, you might or might not hear attorney Margaret Ratner-Kunstler discussing the FBI raids and the issues of grand juries. If you don't, you can always go to the Law and Disorder Radio website to stream the latest program or you can listen on whatever radio station you normally catch the program on. If you're asking what FBI raids (because you missed it or because there are so many FBI raids), Friday, September 24th raids took place in at least seven homes -- the FBI admits to raiding seven homes -- and the FBI raided the offices of Anti-War Committee. The same day the raids took place the National Lawyers Guild issues a new report, Heidi Boghosian's [PDF format warning] "The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the US." Heidi is one of Law and Disorder's three co-hosts, the other two are Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner. And they addressed the raids on the program that began broadcasting September 27th. Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "No Lift Off" went up last night. We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "U.S. BUSTING LABOR UNIONS IN IRAQ" (Bodhi Thunder):

It is only in comic books and Hollywood movies that America's superheroes exist to defend the underdog. In practice, the armies of America have fanned out around the globe to show they are the willing servants of the corporate overdog. As Noam Chomsky writes in his book “Imperial Ambitions”(Metropolitan), “You can almost predict (U.S.) policy by that simple principle: Does it help rich people or does it help the general population? And from that you can virtually deduce what's going to happen.” There is no more disgraceful example than Iraq.
Instead of supporting Iraq's pro-democracy labor unions, which would have put Washington on the side of the working-class, the U.S. signaled its attitude toward Iraqi labor unions in 2003 “when coalition troops stormed the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions(IFTU) headquarters in Baghdad, ransacked their offices, arrested eight union workers, and shut down the office,” wrote Matthew Harwood in the April, 2005, issue of “The Washington Monthly.” Harwood added that when historians re-examine what went wrong during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, “somewhere on the list will be the administration's indifference, indeed hostility, to Iraqi organized labor. The Iraqi people are paying a price for that attitude.”
This hostility continues to this very day. In an article titled, “Unionbusting, Iraq-Style,” published in the October 25th “The Nation” magazine, author David Bacon writes “because Iraqi unions have organized opposition to privatization since the start of the occupation, the (Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-) Maliki administration is enforcing with a vengeance Saddam Hussein's prohibition of public sector unions.” Last March, he writes, after oil workers protested low pay and their union's “illegal” status, “leaders were transferred hundreds of miles from home.”
The unions' “crime” in Iraq is to oppose production-sharing agreements with foreign oil companies, which would then get a share of what they produce rather than a fee for services. In the past, some oil outfits used this tack to swindle their government partners out of huge sums. In Iran, BP's predecessor in the Fifties wouldn't even tell Tehran how much oil it was extracting! “Although the (Iraqi) oil union doesn't oppose all foreign investment, it has criticized the (Maliki) government for signing unfavorable contracts with oil corporations, in particular production-sharing agreements...” writes Bacon.

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