Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Nouri's power-sharing agreement faces rocky waters

Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports a Taji car bombing today has claimed 1 life and left seventeen more people killed. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) counts twelve wounded in that bombing and notes a Baghdad roadside bombing has left seven people injured -- pilgrims headed to "Karbala to visit the Imam Hussein Shrine there." Alsumaria TV adds that a Baghad home invasion of a police officer's home resulted in four of his family members being injured last night. Violence continues. What else does?

Alsumaria TV reports: "Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Nuri Al Maliki warned that any change in the agreements reached, during talks with Kurdistan Leader Massoud Barazani would delay the formation of a national policy council." Nouri's in a panic because the power-sharing agreement is facing some tension. Ayad Allawi's stating he may pull out of the agreement, his political slate Iraqiya has said that Nouri needs to nominate "rival parties" to his cabinet and now Hemin Baban (Rudaw) reports that, according to Kurdish MP Mahmoud Osman, the Kurds have informed Nouri that they expect to be granted "six ministerial portfolios in the new cabinet." For those late to the party, to form the power-sharing agreement, Nouri just promised cabinet posts . . . . repeatedly. To the point that he promised more than exist. So now he's inventing posts. Of course, invented posts don't necessarily come with real duties and powers and it's a bit of rough waters for Nouri right now. Not surprisingly, Alsumaria TV explains, "Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Nuri Al Maliki warned that any change in the agreements reached during talks with Kurdistan Leader Massoud Barazani would delay the formation of a national policy council." That statement sounds a lot like Nouri's laying the case for "I'm still designate even if I can't meet the rules outlined by the Constitution in the Constitutionally mandated 30 days!"

The March 7th elections. Still no government. 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. November 10th a power sharing deal resulted in the Parliament meeting for the second time and voting in a Speaker. And then Iraqiya felt double crossed on the deal and the bulk of their members stormed out of the Parliament. David Ignatius (Washington Post) explains, "The fragility of the coalition was dramatically obvious Thursday as members of the Iraqiya party, which represents Sunnis, walked out of Parliament, claiming that they were already being double-crossed by Maliki. Iraqi politics is always an exercise in brinkmanship, and the compromises unfortunately remain of the save-your-neck variety, rather than reflecting a deeper accord. " After that, Jalal Talabani was voted President of Iraq. Talabani then named Nouri as the prime minister-delegate. If Nouri can meet the conditions outlined in Article 76 of the Constitution (basically nominate ministers for each council and have Parliament vote to approve each one with a minimum of 163 votes each time and to vote for his council program) within thirty days, he becomes the prime minister. If not, Talabani must name another prime minister-delegate. . In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister-delegate. It took eight months and two days to name Nouri as prime minister-delegate. His first go-round, on April 22, 2006, his thirty day limit kicked in. May 20, 2006, he announced his cabinet -- sort of. Sort of because he didn't nominate a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of a Natioanl Security. This was accomplished, John F. Burns wrote in "For Some, a Last, Best Hope for U.S. Efforts in Iraq" (New York Times), only with "muscular" assistance from the Bush White House. Nouri declared he would be the Interior Ministry temporarily. Temporarily lasted until June 8, 2006. This was when the US was able to strong-arm, when they'd knocked out the other choice for prime minister (Ibrahim al-Jaafari) to install puppet Nouri and when they had over 100,000 troops on the ground in Iraq. Nouri had no competition. That's very different from today. The Constitution is very clear and it is doubtful his opponents -- including within his own alliance -- will look the other way if he can't fill all the posts in 30 days. As Leila Fadel (Washington Post) observes, "With the three top slots resolved, Maliki will now begin to distribute ministries and other top jobs, a process that has the potential to be as divisive as the initial phase of government formation." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) points out, "Maliki now has 30 days to decide on cabinet posts - some of which will likely go to Iraqiya - and put together a full government. His governing coalition owes part of its existence to followers of hard-line cleric Muqtada al Sadr, leading Sunnis and others to believe that his government will be indebted to Iran." The stalemate ends when the country has a prime minister. It is now nine months and counting. Thursday November 25th, Nouri was finally 'officially' named prime minister-designate. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) explained, "In 30 days, he is to present his cabinet to parliament or lose the nomination." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) added, "Even if Mr. Maliki meets the 30-day deadline in late December -- which is not a certainty, given the chronic disregard for legal deadlines in Iraqi politics -- the country will have spent more than nine months under a caretaker government without a functioning legislature. Many of Iraq's most critical needs -- from basic services to investment -- have remained unaddressed throughout the impasse." Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) offered, "He has an extremely difficult task ahed of him, these next 30 days are going to be a very tough sell for all of these parties that all want something very important in this government. It took a record eight months to actually come up with this coalition, but now what al-Maliki has to do is put all those people in the competing positions that backed him into slots in the government and he has a month to day that from today."

Sami Moubayed (Asia Times) notes the competition and jockeying for cabinet posts:

Among other things, Allawi's Iraqi National List was earmarked to name the minister of foreign affairs, but it is now clear that post will continue to be held by the Kurds. Instead, Allawi's team is demanding the Ministries of Finance, Municipalities, and Agriculture. It is also eyeing the Ministry of Industry and Youth Affairs, given that the powerful Ministry of Oil will seemingly go to the INA. No agreement had been reached as of the weekend on the less powerful, but very strategic, Ministry of Housing.
Additional posts in debate are non-ministerial ones that nevertheless are crucial, like governor of the central bank and director of Iraqi intelligence. Jamal al-Batikh, an MP who is close to Allawi, is a strong candidate for the security post, although Maliki wants it for his bureau chief, Tarek Najm. Adnan al-Asadi, a veteran of the Ministry of Interior, is eyeing the post of minister and so is Shirwan Waeli, the outgoing Shi'ite minister of national security.
The Ministry of Interior is very strategic, as all parties remember only too well how when it was held by the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), militias flourished on the streets of Baghdad and accusations flared over SIIC members using the ministry's police cars - and dungeons - to settle scores with traditional enemies.
A new post that is raising snowballing speculation is that of the deputy prime minister of energy, which will probably serve as an alternate authority to the minister of oil. Given that INA has secured the Oil Ministry, Maliki is pushing to name outgoing minister Hussain al-Shahristani, one of his prime allies, as deputy prime minister for energy.

Turning to the topic of WikiLeaks, at Chatham Daily News, Bruce Corcoran takes on the notion that WikiLeaks' releases are just 'wrong' during war:

How about the Iraq War? U.S. troops have been there since 2003, 93 long months. This "war" has gone on longer than the Second World War. What's worse, it was a contrived affair. Remember the clamour over weapons of mass destruction? That was the reason behind the invasion. Sure, the U.S. found Saddam Hussein hiding in a rat hole, but they never found those WMDs.
And yet young U.S. soldiers are still dying over there, nearly four years after Hussein's arrest, trial and execution.
If we Westerners are still at "war," perhaps a few governments need to come clean on why. By leaving troops to occupy Islamic countries for such long stretches, our prime ministers and presidents in the West have been the lead recruiters to the very terrorist organizations they've been striving to stamp out.
Had the U.S. acted with surgical precision in Iraq, getting Saddam and getting the heck out, Iraq wouldn't have turned into the al-Qaida hotbed it is today. By lingering, the U.S. turned supporters, and those who were just happy to see Saddam ousted, against them.

Julian Assange remains in the news. He is part of WikiLeaks, he is not WikiLeaks. He is currently facing charges. Hopefully, he's innocent. If not, that will come out as well. As noted in yesterday's snapshot, non-feminist Naomi Wolf launched an attack on the two women who have filed charges. As always when the men want to attack, they need a mouthpiece to do it through. They would be called out but the hope is Naomi won't be and that attacking apparent rape victims will be seen as "feminist" and "good." It is neither. If the women's allegations are false, that will emerge in the trial (no trial would most likely indicate the charges are false). Heather notes Amy Siskind's takedown of Naomi Wolf's assault. The New Agenda's Siskind writes a 'thank you' on behalf of rapists to Naomi and makes her point. Though she doesn't bring this up, I will. She also makes her point that she is a feminist. For those who've forgotten, in January 2009, Naomi and Amy were both on CNN with Naomi insisting Barack was a feminist and a 'gift' and we'd have a post-everything world. Pop another pill, Naomi. Naomi began whispering about conspiracies and offering slurs against Amy Siksind. Events tend to demonstrate what speechifying doesn't. In other words, Amy gets to hold her head high while Naomi's brought shame on herself and her supporters. Refer to Ann's "This rape survivor says: Naomi Wolf, go f**k yourself" from last night and we'll note this from the Center for Constitutional Rights:

CCR Statement on Arrest of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Rights Group Alarmed By Legal Overreach

Assault Allegations Must Be Taken Seriously While Ensuring Process Not Manipulated for Political Reasons


December 7, 2010, New York – In response to the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange today, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
As a human rights organization, the Center for Constitutional Rights is alarmed by multiple examples of legal overreach and irregularities in the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, especially given concerns that they are meant to clear the way for Mr. Assange to be extradited to the U.S. via Sweden.
Standard procedure in these cases is to call in a suspect for interrogation, and he has offered on numerous occasions to cooperate with the authorities. Similarly, a suspect who has surrendered, having never gone into hiding or attempted to flee, would normally be allowed to post bail. Yet Mr. Assange has been arrested and denied bail.
Allegations like these should be taken seriously, and in this regard Assange has made every effort to cooperate in this matter. He should be afforded all due process, and steps should be taken to ensure that the investigation process is not manipulated for political reasons.
We are concerned that the United States may seek to punish Mr. Assange for his journalistic efforts at uncovering and exposing the truth underlying key world events exactly as other news media, including The New York Times, have done. The documents published by WikiLeaks are providing important information about significant government wrongdoing and serious human rights violations that must be addressed, rather than focusing entirely on punishing the messenger.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Note, you can support WikiLeaks, you can want Julian Assange to get a fair hearing and you can even hope he is innocent (as I do -- and currently he is innocent by American notions of justice) and never, ever have to attack two women whose case has not yet been prevented. If they're telling the truth, it will be obvious at the trial, if they're lying, that will be obvious. (No trial will mean he's innocent.)

Closing with the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. At the DPC's video page, there is a new video by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She remembers what others seem to forget. Remember all the grandstanding on 9-11 and the use of the term hero? If it was indeed genuine, why does Gillibrand have to remind people of those workers? This is her Senate floor statement "Clearest Example of Right v. Wrong: We Have a Moral Obligation to Protect the Workers Who Came to the Rescue on 9/11."

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