Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Nouri to nominate non-consensus candidates

Hisham Rikabi (Al Mada) reports that Nouri al-Maliki will, according to whispers, offer up some names to fill empty Cabinet posts when he joins Parliament tomorrow. There are rumors on top of the rumors including that the names he proposes have no consensus behind them and that Nouri will be pushing his job off onto the Parliament (which will allow him an out, now won't it?). Among the names being whispered as nominees are Ahmed Chalabi, Lt Gen Abboud Qanbar and Turaihi Aqeel who, supposedly, will be competing for the post of Minister of the Interior. Citing Kurdish press reports, Rikabi notes rumors that Nouri intends to toss out ten names for the posts of Minister of Defense, Minister of Interior and Minister of National Security (and Intelligence). Dar Addustour adds that an unnamed person with the State Of Law political slate (Nouri's slate) has stated ISCI, Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters will not be voting on the names due to the lack of political consenus. If that's true, who will be voting? That's a huge chunk of the MPs. Iraqiya won the most seats. The other two hold a significant number of seats and came together to back Nouri as prime minister-designate last year. If the rumor is true about withholding votes being planned for Thursday, that would explain why Moqtada al-Sadr was all over Iraq yesterday -- Sadr City in Baghdad as well as Kadhimiyah).

In other news of Parliament, the National Alliance held a press conference today. Al Mada reports that they are threatening to walk -- all 80 of them -- if Parliament doesn't stop 'reading speeches and statements and failing to legislate.' The report also notes that although Parliament was to go into recess April 14th, they've extended the session to run through May 14th. Yesterday's snapshot included this: "Aswat al-Iraq reports that a member of the Iraqiya slate is stating over '200 draft laws are defunct inside the Iraqi parliment'." This is the inaction that the National Alliance is objecting to.

Meanwhile New Sabah reports that the Integrity Commission has supposedly developed a plan to examine the graduate certifications and other credentials of various officials and they will be checking them out and also looking into the rumors that certain positions were purchased with large amounts of money. The Ministries of Defense and Interior are named in New Sabah's report as two ministries that will be examined.

Let's move over to Jalal Talabani. Aswat al-Iraq notes that the President of Iraq made congratulatory statements yesterday towards Iraqi women in observance of International Women's Day. Sally Jawdat (Al Mada) reports from Irbil on the day and notes that Massoud Barzani, President of the KRG, congratulated women (all women) and then moved on to note women in the Kurdistan region and spoke of the role that they have played in the liberation of Kurdistan. He declared that the KRG is always a defender of women's rights. Meanwhile, Al Rafidayn reports that there has been an increase in the number of suicides among Karbala women who are the victims of assault. Dr. Amer Haidar is quoted stating that al-Hussein Hospital is receiving at least two women a week who have attempted suicide and that the women display fractures, burns and other signs of abuse. Dr. Sana Abdul speculates that some women may see suicide as the only way to be free of physically abusive husbands. Suha Alsaikli(Am Mada)reports on Iraqi women who gathered in Baghdad yesterday to mark International Women's Day including women with the Iraqi Communist Party, the Association of Iraqi Women and Peace and Solidarity Organization. Passing out sweets, the women drew attention to the status of women in Iraq, particularly widows and divorcees. Umm Ammar, with the Communist Party, decried Nouri's orders to seize the Party's headquarters on Sunday and noted that other parties were not targeted.

Moving to the US, David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. Bacon notes Women's International Day:

The California Domestic Worker Bill of Rights would provide domestic workers with:

* Equal overtime pay.
* Equal right to a safe and healthy workplace.
* Equal right to worker's compensation.
* Equal right to reporting time pay.
* Equal right to notice before termination.
* Right to 5 hours uninterrupted sleep under adequate conditions.
* Right to cook one's own food.
* Right to annual cost of living wage increase.
* Right to paid vacations.
* Right to paid sick days.

We'll note that again tomorrow morning with a link. I can't find a link this morning, sorry.
We'll cover Talabani's Kirkuk remarks in the snapshot today. Right now, we'll close with this from Sean Kane's "Iraqi protests and the need for a political strategy on Kirkuk" (Foreign Policy):

Somewhat lost in the wave of protests sweeping through the Middle East, which are now washing up on Iraq's shores, has been the recent deployment of two brigades of Kurdish peshmerga troops in the disputed province of Kirkuk in northern Iraq. There has been a peshmerga presence in Kirkuk since 2003, but stationed north of the provincial capital of Kirkuk city. However, following Iraq's own "Day of Rage" on Feb. 25, peshmerga forces moved to take up positions along a line south of the city. Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials have stated that the deployment is needed to protect Kurdish populations in the disputed areas from the threat posed by what they claim are terrorist-infiltrated demonstrations. The Iraqi government's response to the move has so far been muted, but local Arab leaders in Kirkuk and some of their Turkoman counterparts are expressing alarm that the move will fuel intercommunal tension and requesting intervention by the national government. Underscoring the potential seriousness of the situation, on Sunday, U.S. Ambassador James Jeffrey and U.S. Forces Commanding General Lloyd Austin met with KRG President Massoud Barzani to discuss security arrangements in Kirkuk.

The status of Kirkuk and other disputed territories in northern Iraq is perhaps the major unresolved potential political driver of conflict in Iraq as American troops prepare to withdraw later this year, and at various points since 2008 the Iraqi Army and the Kurdish peshmerga have come close to an armed confrontation. The current situation in Kirkuk is likely to be defused without further escalation, but it raises important questions about the consolidation of U.S.-backed conflict-prevention mechanisms aimed at forestalling the use of military units to resolve territorial disputes as well as the lack of a viable Iraqi political process to begin to resolve the core elements underlying the territorial conflict. Without any political road map or vision existing for addressing the fate of the disputed territories, there is the risk that parties are tempted to take matters into their own hands and that moments of social unrest, such as the current demonstrations around poor services and unemployment, quickly degenerate into ethnic tension.

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