Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nouri and his (partial) Cabinet

That Maliki has an authoritarian streak has been amply demonstrated over the past 4 1/2 years, critics say. Maliki, originally selected in 2006 as a compromise candidate assumed to be weak and malleable, has proved to be a tough and ruthless political operator who cannily subverted parliament to cement his authority over many of the new democracy's fledgling institutions.
In his role as commander in chief of the armed forces, he replaced divisional army commanders with his appointees, brought provincial command centers under his control and moved to dominate the intelligence agencies.
The widely feared Baghdad Brigade, which answers directly to Maliki's office, has frequently been used to move against his political opponents. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused him of operating secret prisons in which Sunni suspects have been tortured.

The above is from Liz Sly's "Maliki's governing style raises questions about future of Iraq's fragile democracy" (Washington Post) on Nouri who moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister when everyone agreed to pretend over 10 posts not being filled constituted a full cabinet.

Not Quite There

Illustration above is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not Quite There" and it only gets more accurate with each day. Liz Sly and Aaron Davis (Washington Post) note, "A special gathering of the nation's parliament endorsed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for a second term in office, with lawmakers then voting one by one for 31 of the eventual 42 ministers who will be in his cabinet." AFP notes that all but one is a man, Bushra Hussein Saleh being the sole woman in the Cabinet. And they quote Kurdish MP Ala Talabani stating, "We congratulate the government, whose birth required eight months, but at the same time we are very depressed when we see the number of women chosen to head the ministries. Today, democracy was decapitated by sexism. The absence of women is a mark of disdain and is contrary to several articles of the constitution. I suggest to Mr Maliki to even choose a man for the ministry of women's rights, as you do not have confidence in women." Ala Talabani is the niece of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Imran Ali (Womens Views On News) reminds, "The new constitution stipulates that a quarter of the members of parliament be women and prohibits gender discrimination." Apparently concern about representation doesn't apply to the Cabinet (and, no, Nouri's attempts at offering excuses for the huge gender imbalance do not fly). John Leland (New York Times) writes about the reactions of Iraqis and we'll note Anbar Province because the State Dept thinks/fears it's the new hot spot in Iraq:

For Ikram Rijab Abdullah, 38, the results left a bitter taste. “Our ambition was to form a government by Allawi and the important ministries to go to the Iraqiya bloc, because the it’s the only bloc that included patriotic people,” Mr. Abdullah said. “But what happened has disappointed us.” The haggling, he said, was pure politics, with most ministries going to “unqualified people.” He added: “We as citizens have done what we were supposed to do and what is happening nowadays has been imposed by American and regional interests.”
His neighbor, Anmar Saadi Al-A’ani, 34, was even less optimistic about the new government, which included many members of the previous cabinet. “We were hoping to see new faces pumping new blood into the heart of the new government and to be national names.” The chosen ministers, he said, did not reflect the country’s many qualified candidates.

Ammar Karim (AFP) reports that the Cabinet held their first meeting today and Karim examines some of the big issues facing the Cabinet.

And we'll drop back to the US to close with this from the Senate Democratic Policy Committee's video page, DPC Chair Byron Dorgan addressing the START Treaty.

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