The above is from Anthony Shadid's "Political Turmoil Follows Barring of Hundreds From Iraq Ballot" in today's New York Times about the fall out from the banning of Nouri's political rivals. Most accounts try to pretty it up but the reality is that this is about protecting Nouri. Anyone seen as a threat must be banned. They can have run in elections since the US invasion but suddenly they're 'Ba'athists!' and must be purged. Nouri refused to join a variety of political blocs last year and, we know (because they talked about), at least one group lost out because they refused to promise that, if their slate was successful, Nouri would be prime minister. Now he eliminates his rivals. And everyone works overtime trying to pretend like it's not happening, that Little Nouri isn't attempting to be the New Saddam. Nada Bakri's "Iraqi Politicians Form New Secular Coalition" (New York Times) notes a new development:
Prominent Iraqi politicians on Saturday announced the formation of what might emerge as the country’s most powerful secular coalition in parliamentary elections in March, a group that includes a vice president, a former prime minister and a leading Sunni lawmaker who was barred last week from taking part in the vote.
Many here view the coalition, which includes Sunnis and Shiites, as the biggest competitor to the State of Law Coalition, led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. But the decision to bar some of its members from running in the March 7 elections, including the Sunni lawmaker, Saleh al-Mutlaq, could weaken its performance.
al-Mutlaq is quoted in the article declaring to the crowd, "If they succeed in eliminating Mutlaq, I tell them that there is a Mutlaq in every one of you." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) adds:
The commission's chairman, Ahmad Chalabi, and its executive director, Ali Lami, are on the Iraqi National Alliance slate, the Shiite grouping of mostly religious parties that is aiming to win enough seats to claim the prime minister's job.
The two men were on the De-Baathification Commission set up by former U.S. Administrator L. Paul Bremer III, and they kept their jobs when the commission was renamed because efforts to form a new one failed in parliament.
"This is totally a political decision," said Maysoon Damluji, a legislator with the secular coalition led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, which is believed to have had "many" candidates disqualified. "This is one way to get rid of your political opponents, by de-Baathifying them," she said.
For those who have forgotten or never knew, Ahmad Chalabi is the liar supreme who should be sitting behind bars. Chalabi was top dog among the Iraqi exiles who spent over two decades agitating for illegal war. Chalabi was a 'source' (usually unindentified) for many journalists. AP notes him today in another story: " . . . Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi exile group whose discredited WMD claims had been the main justification for the invasion." From SourceWatch's Chalabi entry:
Dr. Ahmed Chalabi (also spelled "Ahmad") is part of a three-man leadership council for the Iraqi opposition group, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), which was created at the behest of the U.S. government for the purpose of fomenting the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Chalabi, a secular Iraqi Shiite Muslim and mathematician by training, previously served as chairman of the Petra Bank in Jordan, where he engaged in various cloak-and-dagger operations that ended abruptly in August 1989 when he fled the country "under mysterious circumstances" and in 1992 was convicted in absentia for embezzlement, fraud and currency-trading irregularities, sentencing him to 22 years' hard labour. ,
In August 2003 a petition was circulating among Jordanian deputies to hold a special session soon in the 110-member house to demand the government take legal steps to seek Chalabi's extradition from Iraq. 
Al Jazeera covers the announcement here and doesn't bother to run interference for Nouri. Iran's Press TV notes:
At the time of his premiership, Allawi was widely known as a US ally and operative in the initial American-installed government in Iraq. His attempts to win back his position in the next two elections soundly failed.
The coalition is also joined by the incumbent Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who complicated the passage of an electoral law last year by using his veto power to bar an earlier version of the law.
Both Allawi and Hashemi are notably opposed to current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. "He (Maliki) has failed to create a state of citizens to replace a state of (religious) communities," Hashemi told candidates and onlookers at the launching ceremony of his election campaign at Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad.
Violence continues in Iraq with Reuters noting 2 police officers shot dead in Baghdad, 1 Trade Ministry employee shot dead in Baghdad, while a Baghdad stick bombing injured three people and an al-Zab sticky bombing claimed 1 life.
Canada's CBC reports 28-year-old Iraq War resister Cliff Cornell has been released from military pison and quotes him stating, "If I had to do it again I would, because I'm not killing innocent people. I still stand behind my decision 100 per cent. I am going to spend a few months with my family and then try to head back to Canada. I have friends up there and a whole community for me to come back to."
The following community sites updated since yesterday evening:
From Sherwood Ross' "OBAMA FANNING WAR FLAMES TO ENGULF THE MIDDLE EAST" (Bodhi Thunder):
As President Obama steps up the war that is inflaming ever wider sectors of the Middle East, USA continues its rapid slide toward Third World status. The two developments are not unrelated. Spending on war does not boost an economy as does domestic spending---and the Pentagon has been spending trillions on war.
At the start of the last decade, the U.S. was producing 32 percent of the world's gross domestic product. At decade’s end, it was just 24 percent, conservative columnist Patrick Buchanan observed. "No nation in modern history, save for the late Soviet Union, has seen so precipitous a decline in relative power in a single decade," he writes.
Buchanan cites the George W. Bush Republicans for turning a budget surplus into a huge deficit with tax cuts and social spending. He also faults GWB’s two wars, adding, "the huge U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq serves as (al-Qaeda's) recruiting poster."
This is the desperate situation President Obama is compounding by dispatching 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, building up U.S. and NATO forces there to nearly 140,000. To this figure add 100,000 U.S. contractors, making the actual number of military-related personnel about a quarter million. All at the expense of the American taxpayers!
"The war---once mostly limited to Pakistan border---has spread to nearly every corner of the country" and “penetrated" the capital Kabul "with car bombings and spectacular attacks," the AP reported January 10th. Its headline: "Afghans Losing Hope After 8 Years of War."
The AP quotes 19-year-old carpet-seller Hamid Hashimi stating, "The more soldiers they send here, the worse it gets." And the more misguided air attacks that kill civilians, the angrier Afghan civilians get. The raids "have previously killed civilians and inflamed anti-American sentiment among Afghans," Joshua Partlow reported in the Washington Post.
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