Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The under-reported power-grab

The power-grab continues in Iraq even if few English outlets are covering it. How big of an issue is it? The United Nations is now involved. Again, lots of luck finding stories about it in English language news outlets. Background, as November wound down, an arrangement was reached that allowed Nouri al-Maliki to be named prime minister-designate and have 30 days to put together a Cabinet. (Actually, that was in the middle of November but Jalal Talabani waited on 'officially' declaring Nouri prime minister-designate in order to give Nouri a lot more time to put together a Cabinet. Not that it helped any. Even now, he still doesn't have a full Cabinet.) So knowing that he was prime minister-designate and, most likely, prime minister, Nouri filed (December 18th) with the Supreme Court in order to have independent bodies the central bank, the electoral commission, the human rights commmission and the anti-corruption body placed under his control. He did this without notifying anyone in Parliament. When news leaked out last week, outrage was expressed with many referring to it as a "coup." From yesterday's snapshot:

Saif Tawfeeq (Reuters) reports that Nouri insisted today that the bodies would continue to be autonomous ones despite his control of them. Alsumaria TV adds, "Iraq's Parliament is due to host on Tuesday heads of the independent commissions to discuss the ruling of placing certain institutions under ministerial control. The Parliament is expected to receive head of the Integrity Commission Rahim Al Ukaili, the High Electoral Commission Chairman Faraj Al Haidair and Central Bank Chief Sanan Al Shabibi, a source from the Parliament speaking on condition of anonymity told Alsumaria News."

Nouri has been insisting that the Parliament has no say and shouldn't even attempt to address the issue. Hisham Rikabi (Al Mada) reminds that Nouri went on state television Saturday night to insist that the court decision is binding and cannot be appealed before adding that any attempt to do so would "destroy the country." This is the thug the US installed -- twice. The US government installed him twice.

The idiot pontificator Tareq Harb is trotted out (as usual) to provide cover for Nouri as he's done for years now. Harb is not a legal expert, he's a legal idiot. And his refusal to stay with the law (the law doesn't predict, for example, why Biden visits Iraq though 'legal expert' Harb has used his 'legal expertise' to 'tell' why Biden has visited) should have long ago exposed him as the useless gasbag he is. But today he gets Al Sabaah treating him as though he knows something. He declares today that the Parliament cannot overturn the decision. Actually, per the Constitution they can and if Harb's brain wasn't up Nouri's ass, he might know that. Parliament is over the funding of those bodies. Parliament can kill the bodies tomorrow and vote to recreate new ones. Parliament can do any number of things and a real "legal expert" would not only know the Constitution of Iraq, he or she would know what it meant in practice. (The ass Tareq Harb most recently provided cover -- via lies -- for Nouri's inability to fill the Cabinet. Tareq Harb is a damn liar and those who quote him as an expert reveal their own ignorance or bias.) As for the United Nations? Al Mada reports that the United Nation's top official in Iraq, Ad Melkert, can't do a damn thing or won't. He weighs in to sa that the court's decision must be respected but so must Parliament. Way to choose a side, United Nations. It gets worse. Ad Melkert doesn't feel the issue is at all important (this is how Saddam Hussein's happen, pay attention). What is important? "The next stage requires a focus on the recovery of the Iraqi economy," he is quoted stating.

In other war news, the Irish Emigrant publishes the latest report from Shannonwatch:

President Obama declared the end of the U.S. combat mission in Iraq in August 2010, but as records of military traffic released by Shannonwatch show, 2010 was a year of business as usual for the U.S. military at the civilian Shannon airport. Over a thousand U.S. military troop and cargo flights landed at the airport in 2010, while more than four and a half thousand such flights are known to have passed through Irish airspace en-route to and from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cargo companies with U.S. military contracts and planes linked to the extraordinary renditions program also continued to use Shannon airport.

Shannonwatch’s detailed records show that over the 12-month period up to 31 December, over 350 U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft and an additional 750 Omni Air International troop carriers landed at Shannon. In addition, almost two thousand U.S. Air Force/Navy flights and more than two and a half thousand troop carrying flights were logged transiting Irish airspace around Shannon. These overflights include other companies such as World Airways and North American Airlines who are also contracted by the U.S. military to carry troops.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, the death toll for January was twice that of December.
Xiong Tong (Xinhua) reports
, "The death toll from violence in January climbed to highest level since September late year as several massive terrorist attacks killed and wounded hundreds of people, including security members and Shiite pilgrims, Iraqi authorities said on Tuesday." The figures are the official government figures -- under count. Once upon a time the press would keep their own count. AP still does. If they release their count today, we'll note it. Salam Faraj (AFP) observes, "The data was published two days after a US watchdog said shortfalls in the capabilities of Iraq's security forces could undo security gains after American troops leave at the end of the year. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) noted that while Baghdad's forces had made major improvements, they suffered from poor logistics capabilities, and that corruption within the police and army had hampered their development." This as Mark Landler (New York Times) reports this morning on a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report to be released later today which states that US diplomats will be left unprotected in Iraq if the US announced plan for withdrawal or 'withdrawal' is followed: "Without thousands of additional soldiers — a prospect that seems untenable, given political pressures in both countries — the report recommends rethinking the American civilian presence, which is projected to number 17,000 diplomats, contractors and others in 15 sites in Iraq."

Tupperware's Elinor Steele writes a piece at the Huffington Post on Iraqi women. We'll close with this from David Swanson's "The Art of Demonization" (War Is A Crime):

In selling the War on Iraq, it became important to stress that Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons, and equally important to avoid the fact that he had done so with U.S. assistance. George Orwell wrote in 1948, "Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labor, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral color when it is committed by 'our' side.…The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."
At some point we have to raise the question of whether the atrocities are the real motivation of the war planners, which should lead us to also look into the question of whether war is the best tool for preventing atrocities.
The record of the United States, sadly, is one of big lies. We are told that Mexico has attacked us, when in reality we attacked them. Spain is denying Cubans and Filipinos their liberty, when we should be the ones denying them their liberty. Germany is practicing imperialism, which is interfering with the British, French, and U.S. empire building. Howard Zinn quotes from a 1939 skit in his A People's History of the United States:
"We, the governments of Great Britain and the United States, in the name of India, Burma, Malaya, Australia, British East Africa, British Guiana, Hongkong, Siam, Singapore, Egypt, Palestine, Canada, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, Hawaii, Alaska, and the Virgin Islands, hereby declare most emphatically, that this is not an imperialist war."
Britain's Royal Air Force kept busy between the two world wars dropping bombs on India, and took the prime responsibility for policing Iraq by firebombing tribes who did not or could not pay their taxes. When Britain declared war on Germany, the British imprisoned thousands of people in India for opposing World War II. Were the British fighting imperialism in World War II, or just German imperialism?

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