Thursday, April 21, 2011. Chaos and violence continue, protests continue, a governor joins the protests, a historian and journalist seems unaware of pattern, and more.
Protests continue in Iraq. The Great Iraqi Revolution reports, "The notorious Nasser Al Ghannam could not put a stop to the Free of Mosul -- after imposing a curfew last night starting at 1.00 a.m. this morning he proceeded with his troops to cut off all bridges and roads as well as arrest people who were marching to the Square of the Free -- HOWEVER, Atheel Al Nujaifi joined a huge demonstrations to the Square of the Free and broke the blockade. Well done Atheel Al Nujaifi! I wonder whether he has started seeing the light!" That's major news. Atheel Al Nujaifi (also spelled Athil al-Nujaifi) is the brother of the Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi which, all by itself, would make his participation news worthy. But al-Nujaifi holds office himself -- he's Governor al-Nujaifi, governor of Nineveh. And Nasser Al Ghannam? He's the Iraqi Army's Second Division Chief. DPA explains the curfew which began at 1:00 was to then go on all day. Rizan Ahmed (AK News) reminds, "The governer of Nineveh Athiel al-Nujaifi announced last Tuesday that the Ahrar Square is opened for peaceful demonstrations and protests, in a direct escalation, despite the official appeals from the federal government to stop demonstrations and protests. Ahmed reports, "Director of Information department of Nineveh province said Thursday that a force of the Iraqi army clashed with the protection forces of the governor of Nineveh Athiel al-Nujaifi after the prevention of a demonstration led by the latter to Ahrar Square to join the protest organized by groups from Mosul since 12 days demanding of the departure of 'occupation' and the implementation of government promises and the release of detainees." In addition, Aswat al-Iraq reports attorneys demonstrated in Falluja with a sit-in calling for the release of 'detainees' and the departure of US troops from Iraqi soil.
Meanwhile Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reports objections to "a government edict last week, restricting rallies in Baghdad to its two main sports stadiums, is being seen as unconstitutional and has raised questions over the government's ability to meet protesters' demands." 15th of March Movement activist Ali al-Fredawi is quoted stating, "The government is swing away from democracy. Banning protests and locking demonstrators inside a stadium is illegal and unconstitutional. The governement decision clearly shows its fear of mounting rage among Iraqis at the blundering performance of (Prime Minister Nuri)." From Michele Naar-Obed's "The least reported unarmed revolution in the Middle East" (Christian Peacemaker):
Daily, thousands of demonstrators flood the city center -- now dubbed "Freedom Square" -- of Suleimaniya, Iraq. There have been eight civilian deaths in Suleimaniya city and scores of injuries resulting from armed government forces opening fire with live ammunition into the crowds. Government security forces killed five unidentified people alleged to be terrorists outside of Suleimaniya. During the imposed curfew, government forces and armed militia positioned themselves throughout the city of Suleimaniya and surrounding Freedom Square. An independent television station was burned to the ground. Suleimaniya students studying in Erbil universities were sent back to Suleimaniyah and government authorities set up roadblocks around the city of Erbil to prevent Suleimaniya cars from entering. There have been assassination attempts against religious leaders advocating for this nonviolent revolution. The Kurdistan Regional Government's Parliament has held emergency sessions to negotiate the demands of the people, but no agreements have arisen from these sessions.
Day 61 of Suleimaniya's daily demonstrations against corruption in Iraqi Kurdistan started early this morning. The CPT team arrived at 11:00. Music was playing from the stage and small groups of people were gathering. Two CPTers decided to use the quiet time to grab a cup of coffee and juice in a cafe next to the square. A few of the demonstration organizers were doing the same.
[. . .]
Then the mayhem began, with the forces launching tear gas. The people who were closest to it came running back towards the square with swollen eyes and faces. Some could not breath. Ambulances were nearby and ready to treat them. News came that the soldiers were moving closer to the square. The stench of the tear gas permeated the streets. Demonstrators set up barricades on the street and began burning tires in order to keep the soldiers from breaking into the square.
The sound of gunfire was prolonged and getting closer to the square. Shops along the street began to close down. Pedestrians ran towards the square to get away from the worst of the tear gas and the shooting. The team made contact with the U.S. Consulate by phone and stayed in contact throughout the day.
IPA notes, "Michele Naar-Obed works with the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a human rights organization and has been based in Suleimaniya since 2006." And quotes her stating, "We are living in a military siege. Ten thousand troops are here occupying the city. … Arrests are ongoing. People are being beaten, gassed, and shot at. Now the troops have official permission to shoot in the legs. Yesterday, we heard that they could shoot to kill. This is for anyone that even remotely tries to form a demonstration anywhere. Last night there were official meetings with the U.S., PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, has been headed by Jalal Talabani, who is president of Iraq] and [an] opposition party."
An eyewitness account from Slemani yesterday:"A number of shopkeepers saw a boy of around 14 years of age being beaten by three armed men dressed in uniform. The shopkeepers watched on while the boy was defiant as he was beaten north of Msgawti Gawra (the Large mosque in Slemani) and was chanting down with the regime, down, down ... The attack by the security forces became more ferocious and the boy started bleeding. Then the boy realized he could no longer take the beatings, he started crying begging them to stop. The shop keepers went into the boys aid by this time he was about to lose consciousness. The men managed to persuade the militiamen to let him go, and brought the boy back to one of the a shop. They gave him some water and let him rest away from the hands of the thugs. Half an hour later, although the boy has regained some composure but could clearly notice the anguish in his eyes. He said that he wants to go home to his mum and change his close as his shirt was torn and blood stained. He even forgot to thank the men who saved him and went on his way, but soon another group of around five armed security forces picked on him as they saw his blood stained shirt concluding he was protester. The boy this time was begging not to be beaten, but the heartless thugs twice his age set on him and started to beat him violently. This all happened very quickly and this time more shopkeepers and businessmen went to his aid. They managed to stop the beatings and eventually send the boy safely home. One of the businessmen who told the story was once a staunch PUK supporter and said:" Since I was a young man until today I have supported this party, but this is the beyond acceptable and they disgust me"."
This morning Nizar Latif (National Newspaper) weighed in on the proposed Baghdad summit for the Arab league, "The Iraqi government continues to insist the Arab League summit, scheduled for Baghdad next month, must go ahead. In reality however, few Iraqis expect their capital to host the meeting. Militant attacks, including recent car bombs in the heart of Baghdad, are a reminder of Iraq's persistent danger and the dogged insurgency that years of warfare and billions of dollars have failed to defeat." The summit was supposed to take place in March. It wasn't secure enough then. People pretend it is now. For how much longer or if the summit will be held next month in Baghdad is unknown. Press TV states Iraq may leave the Arab League. While that's in part, Iran's state media working off a grudge against its Arab neighbors, it's also true that Iran has a lot of pull in the puppet government out of Baghdad. AFP reports that the summit has been postponed -- again. It was supposed to be held March 29th but got delayed and then rescheduled to May 10th. The postponement was not a surprise to everyone. Aswat al-Iraq released their reader poll results this morning which found, "76.68% of the total 491 voters believed that the Arab Summit won't be held in Baghdad in its scheduled time, due to the current challenges facing the Arab Region." Alsumaria TV reports, "The Arab League has scheduled an urgent meeting for Arab Foreign Ministers on May 15 to set a new date for the Arab Summit and appoint a new Arab League Secretary General as a successor for Amro Moussa, [deputy secretary Ahmed] Ben Hill said." UPI explains, "The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council expressed outrage over Baghdad's criticism of the minority Sunni leadership in Bahrain, calling for the cancellation of an Arab League summit scheduled next month in Iraq. The tiny island kingdom is under scrutiny for its response to a Shiite uprising." Arab News adds that an unnamed Arab "League official said the summit will probably be held in September. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. [. . .] The Arab League summit was considered by many Iraqi officials as an opportunity to show off the strides the country has made since the height of the US-led war, and they have spent millions of dollars refurbishing buildings and hotels in anticipation of the meeting." Earlier this month, Al Mada reported that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hoshyar Zebari, has declared holding the Arab Summitt in Baghdad (May 10th through 11th) will cost the country $450 million in US dollars. Lost money and lost prestige at a time when Iraq's puppet government is attempting to ignore the violence and pretend they are a democratic oasis in otherwise dry region. Ahmed Eleiba (Ahram) reports, "Iraq's Permanent Ambassador to the Arab League Qais Al-Azzawi said that his country respects the decision to delay the Arab summit, scheduled to be held in May in Baghdad, due to the current uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria."
Before the announcement was made, Roads to Iraq noted that Moqtada was insisting that events in Bahrain and the summit were two different issues:
This comes as a big blow to Ahmad Chalabi's efforts on the Bahrain issue, which has taken a sectarian dimension. Chalabi threatened that Iraq will intervene in Bahrain.
It seemed that the National Alliance (state law and the National Coalition) are no longer able to deal with the Arab summit crisis and this started a test of power between Maliki and Nujaifi. Parliament Speaker Osama Nujaifi took the initiative, and has stepped up his contacts in recent days in order to create the appropriate atmosphere to hold the Arab summit scheduled in Baghdad next month.
Aswat al-Iraq notes the speculation that the summit, when/if held, will not take place in Baghdad. Meanwhile Al Rafidayn reports that, on Sunday, the Nasser, an Iraqi ship, was anchored in a Bahrain port when the Bahraini military raided the ship, "attacking the crew" and holding them for hours. They maintain there was no justification for the attack. Ahlul Bayt News Agency adds, quoting a member of the Iraqi Parliament, "that a military force armed by the middle of the night last Sunday attacked the ship, which is carrying a crew Iraqis, taken at gunpoint to one of the parties in the dock and detained there for several hours and beaten severely humiliated." Alsumaria TV notes, "Iraq Ministry of Transportation said on Wednesday that Bahraini Security Forces attacked and knocked the crew of an Iraqi mercantile ship at Bahrain port and stressed that the attack was unjustified." Iraq's sea faring problems are usually with Iran. At this point, there are not a great deal of details and all the claims are coming from the Iraqi side. In addition, there's been no explanation for why a Sunday attack was not announced until Wednesday. This is the age of the internet, not the pony express. Nouri and some others in the government have a made a point to show solidarity with those protesting the government of Bahrain. Whether or not that factors into the assault or alleged assault remains open to speculation.
As do Nouri's dealings. Dar Addustour reports that Parliament's Integrity Commission cites Nouri al-Maliki in corrupt dealings such as obtaining commercial contracts -- urging them on a ministry -- which were a waste of money -- such as 2500 tons of milk which was rotten. That milk, by the way, came out of Iran.Alsumaria TV adds, "Iraq's parliamentary integrity committee announced early this month that it will refer to the Integrity Commission three corruption files concerning explosives detection devices, the construction of Sheala and Sadr cities and the Canadian planes issue. The files include more than 9000 documents that confirm the implication of ministers, deputy minsters, general directress and officers in corruption." Prior to the revelations, Nouri already had a difficult relationship with Parliament as he has attempted to take over committees that report them and has attempted to strip them of their right to write legislation (Nouri wants his Cabinet to write the legislation and hand it to Parliament only for a yes-or-no vote -- he wouldn't even allow amendments by the Parliament if he gets his way). Still on Iran, Hisham Rikabi (Al Mada) reports that the Iraqi agencies are so far unable to prevent the water drainage from Iran. The high saline factor of the water has made this a concern to Iraq. Muhammad Aadi, Minster of Water Resources, states that they are in contact with Iranian counterparts and that there is talk of diverting water while agricultural engineer Adnan Saeb notes that the salty water is threatening Iraq's land and waters and that it will be difficult to reduce the saline in the coming years. Saeb states this is a problem that usually takes years to fix.
And though Nouri's been signing his success story since 2006, there's never been any evidence of success. He's now been prime minister for five of the eight years of the Iraq War. New Sabah reports that the Ministry of Human Rights has announced they have 6,000 documented cases of child kidnapping since 2003. All but three of those years took place under Nouri's 'leadership.' Monday saw two suicide bombings at the entrance of the Green Zone. Gus Taylor (Trend Lines) notes those and other recent violence:
The bombings --- likely carried out by Sunni groups linked to al-Qaida -- could allow Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to strengthen his hold on power, says J. Edward Conway, a World Politics Review contributor and former U.S. Defense Department analyst covering Iraq. "With the ongoing attacks, he's basically allowed to play the security card," Conway told Trend Lines this morning. "Some are worried that al-Maliki is acting more and more like an authoritarian leader," he added. "He's yet to appoint anyone to head the Ministries of Defense and Interior, so he's presently acting as the de facto head of both, along with the Iraqi Special Forces."
Five months before the March 2003 invasion, Baroness Symons, then the Trade Minister, told BP that the Government believed British energy firms should be given a share of Iraq's enormous oil and gas reserves as a reward for Tony Blair's military commitment to US plans for regime change. The papers show that Lady Symons agreed to lobby the Bush administration on BP's behalf because the oil giant feared it was being "locked out" of deals that Washington was quietly striking with US, French and Russian governments and their energy firms. Minutes of a meeting with BP, Shell and BG (formerly British Gas) on 31 October 2002 read: "Baroness Symons agreed that it would be difficult to justify British companies losing out in Iraq in that way if the UK had itself been a conspicuous supporter of the US government throughout the crisis."
The response has been typical. It's bad news for New Labour so the Guardian pretends the revelations didn't take place the same way they did with the Downing St. Memos (which the Times of London first reported on). And in the United States, most daily papers have worked overtime to avoid the topic while 'left' institutions like Democracy Now! have reduced it to a headline -- and not even the first headline of the day. The Progressive has had no time for the news. The Nation magazine which used to grandstand on the Iraq War (cover editorials on how they wouldn't support any Democratic politician who didn't call for an end to the Iraq War, for example) can't find time for it. All those (bad) bloggers at The Nation and not one of them can write a piece on the issue. How very telling. As the Beatles once sang, "See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly, I'm crying" ("I Am The Walrus" -- credited to Lennon & McCartney, written by John.) Thomas Ferguson (Huffington Post) points out, "It's time the rest of the story came out -- not because it is history, but because it is not. The U.S. is still in Iraq. Major decisions about the continuing presence of U.S. troops there loom just ahead. The major U.S. media have done little or nothing to investigate the story, though journalists working the U.K., notably Greg Palast, produced execellent reports on the subject. The endless chain of books about the Green Zone and corruption has not really gotten to the heart of the matter. As the U.S. deliberates about its next steps in Iraq, it is time somebody does."
Minutes of a meeting held on 12 May 2003 starkly spell out the importance of the issue, stating: "The future shape of the Iraqi industry will affect oil markets, and the functioning of Opec, in both of which we have a vital interest."
The latest disclosures follow the publication yesterday of minutes of meetings held between senior oil-industry executives and government ministers in the run-up to the war -- despite official claims that no such talks occurred. The first of three documents assessing the situation in the immediate aftermath of the invasion sets out what is described as "required action" resulting from a meeting attended by representatives from key government departments including the Foreign Office, the then Department of Trade and Industry, the Department for International Development and the Treasury.
Officials cite the oil industry as the "first main target" when asked to establish "where specific prospects for British industry exist and ensure we are properly placed to take them". The group was also urged to consider when a "senior British oil industry person should go out to Iraq to survey the ground and, if appropriate, participate in [for example] the emerging Oil Advisory Board".
Two weeks later, London officials outlined a "desirable" outcome for Iraqi's crippled oil industry as "an oil sector open and attractive to foreign investment, with appropriate arrangements for the exploitation of new fields".
A recent report issued by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets [Ofgem], the corporatist entity that regulates energy-related commerce in the UK, warns British consumers:
"Radical steps must be taken to safeguard UK power supplies and prevent
growing numbers of people being hit with energy bills they cannot afford, a watchdog has warned.
"Ofgem said failure to reform the energy system to free up the £200billion
investment needed to secure future supplies might lead to power shortages after
2015. Staying with the current market model was 'not an option', it said, due to
the unprecedented pressures of the financial crisis, environmental targets, dependency on imported gas and closure of aging power stations. "In a report,
the power watchdog said consumers would suffer unless urgent action was taken to free up investment in new power generation, such as renewables and nuclear energy. Ofgem made five suggestions, which all involve moving away from privatized energy markets towards a system giving the government greater control."
Projected rate hikes of 60 percent would hit consumers hard: in tandem with the government's much-hated austerity budget, this could be the spark that sets off a political and social conflagration. Faced with a combination of the oil truckers' protests that paralyzed Europe in 2000, and the "anti-cuts" riots of more recent vintage, the Conservative-LibDem government -- and, conceivably, the entire British political establishment -- would face certain demise.
The privatisation of its oil industry was central to the post-invasion plan for the country, according to previously unseen Whitehall documents. Certainly the U.S. tried to do this but was unsuccessful. Recall that while looters were allowed free sway to vandalise and steal objects from a Baghdad museum the oil ministry was guarded .
The Iraqis put up such a resistance to privatization that they U.S. backed off and tried to pass an oil law that would open up Iraqi oil to foreign investment. That did not work either. This law was one of the benchmarks of progress. There still is no oil law although the Kurds have signed their own agreements with foreign oil. Only PSA Production sharing agreements were put up for auction.
The mass of official documents confirm that, eight years on and following the death of an estimated 1 million civilians, the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq was indeed a war for oil. The documents came to light only due to Freedom of Information requests over a period of five years by Greg Muttitt, an expert on Iraqi oil policy, who works for the British charity Platform. Muttitt has written a book, Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq, published this week. The documents illustrate the imperialist character of the war. The Independent notes: "BP was concerned that if Washington allowed TotalFinaElf's existing contact with Saddam Hussein to stand after the invasion it would make the French conglomerate the world's leading oil company. BP told the Government it was willing to take 'big risks' to get a share of the Iraqi reserves, the second largest in the world."
In some of today's reported violence, Reuters notes 1 police officer was wounded in a Baghdad shootings, a Baghdad roadside bombing injured three people, 6 corpses were discovered in Samarra, 1 person was shot dead in Mosul and, dropping back to yesterday for the last two, Mosul's head of products for the Ministry of Oil distribution was injured in a Mosul shooting and 3 people were injured when a Baghdad liquor store was attacked.
Gareth Porter appears on Scott Horton's Antiwar Radio. I'm not quoting from it. There's another interview that I hope to carry over to Third on Sunday. We had to walk away from Porter in 2008 because, yes, he was a big Kool-Aid drinker and remained one over and over. I believe I pissed off Real News Network by refusing to link to various interviews they did with Porter. (Fine, I really don't care if they were pissed.) But those interviews were not fact based, they were complete fantasies. Reality slapped Gareth upside the head and brought him back down. We were glad to have him back here on earth.
But he's orbiting again.
I want to believe
If you tell me so
I want to believe
'Cause you oughta know
That kicking is hard
But the bottom's harder
So I'm taking your card
But I cannot get my head around it, baby
I cannot get my head around it, baby
'Cause that's just not the way
You make me feel
-- "I Can't Get My Head Around It," written by Aimee Mann, from her album The Forgotten Arm
Gareth comes across very needy and what do the needy need? Usually a Daddy to worship. Right now, that appears to be Moqtada al-Sadr. Gareth's convinced that Moqtada rules Iraq. I disagree (as do many governments' analysis) but I could bite my tongue and state that obviously I can be wrong. And often am. But I'm not in the mood for The Daddy Fairy Tales of 2008 again.
'Nouri forced concessions!!!! The SOFA would have been different!!!! Nouri pushed Bush around!!!!!' I'm so sick of those damn lies. I heard about the SOFA from friends in the State Dept throughout 2008. What I heard jibed with what the SOFA said when finally released by the White House. I've never understood where the demented fantasy of powerful puppet Nouri took root unless it was in the fact that Ryan Crocker was saying kind things about Nouri to the press. (Crocker was then-US Ambassador to Iraq.) Even with those comments out there, everyone knows Crocker is not a push over. The idea that he would be representing the US government and not able to hold his own is rather ridiculous. (Ryan Crocker was the first US official to sign the SOFA -- a fact that apparently was lost on Gareth -- and did so in November 2008. Not December 15th -- that signing ceremony was a photo op -- one I was told was going to be huge at the George W. Bush Library because, at that late date, according to friends in the State Dept, the White House still believed Iraq was going to go down as an "eventual success" and be the thing that polished Bush's reputation.)
Nouri had no "power" in the negotiations, especially not by the fall of 2008. Nouri was facing threats of a no-confidence vote in Parliament, he had massive defections in his Cabinet, had Gareth's all-powerful Moqtada pissed at him (due to the assaults on Basra and the Sadr City section of Baghdad in 2008) and wasn't delivering on any promises. Nouri had no power at all and if the US military left January 1, 2009, Nouri's government would have toppled (the opinion of the US State Dept and one that concerned Nouri as well). Concessions had been made to Nouri in the 2008 negotiation process early on. The three year aspect of the agreement being one of the big ones.
Why was that made? Until Gareth Porter can address that reality, he needs to stop speaking about the 2008 negotiations. The SOFA replaces the UN mandate for the occupation. The UN mandate covered one year. Nouri became prime minister in spring 2006. As 2006 wound down, he wanted to continue the occupation. He signed off on another year (his first time signing off) and when Parliment found out they were furious. He swore it would never happen again and that he would bring any renewal before Parliament. But then 2007 wound down. And Parliament learned Nouri had signed on for another year and not brought them into the process. The SOFA was three years to allow Nouri wiggle room and avoid annual end of the year pressure.
Nouri couldn't survive without the US military in 2008 (may be true even now). This idea that Nouri was strong-arming the US is ridiculous because he had no power and either the SOFA went through or the US military left. It had already been stated publicly -- at a Senate hearing -- in the summer of 2008 that it was too late to begin working on a renewal of the UN mandate. That meant it was the SOFA or nothing. If the SOFA hadn't gone through? The what-ifs there were outlined in 2008 by the current US Vice President Joe Biden. Gareth doesn't know any of this -- even now. It was obvious he didn't know what he was talking and writing about the SOFA back in 2008 and 2009 and up until he finally awoke to reality. We didn't awake to reality here. We never fell for St. Barack Man Of Peace. We never fell for the lie that the SOFA couldn't be renewed. We noted from the beginning it is a three year contract which can be followed, which can be renewed (or replaced) or which can be broken. This is all in the SOFA if you know contract law. Gareth didn't and his sources must not be very good -- or else just interested in gossipy tidbits -- because year after year he got the SOFA wrong. We didn't. If we had been wrong about the SOFA, right now I would have to be writing, "My mistake, my error, my apologies." And I would. I have no problem admitting when I'm wrong and I'm fully aware that I can be wrong and often am. I wasn't wrong about the SOFA.
If Gareth Porter's sources were so informed and accurate, Gareth wouldn't have been so wrong about the SOFA. He's never admitted he was wrong. And his wrong hurt. He is the 'historian' and the 'journalist' and a 'truth teller.' So his being wrong was much worse than other people's lies. (I say Gareth was wrong, not that he lied. That is my opinion.) He had a reputation (a good one, a strong one) and when he insisted the SOFA meant the end of the Iraq War, it carried weight. And encouraged people to stop participating in calls to end the illegal war. I think Gareth was wrong, not lying. For that reason, I would prefer not to note his errors with the SOFA but when he goes on Antiwar Radio and starts telling us 'what really took place in 2008,' excuse the hell out of me, Gareth Porter, but you didn't know what you were talking about back then and you still haven't learned.
To say that Barack's election put pressure on Bush is ridiculous. (It's also ridiculous to credit Bush with the SOFA. Other than thinking some agreement -- any agreement -- would be a credit for him in the future, Bush had no real interest in this. In terms of leadership, Condi Rice and Robert Gates were the ones coming up with specifics for the SOFA. Crocker also had strong input. A State Dept-er who just visited Iraq was one of the on-the-ground leaders back then.) The pressure was on Nouri -- which is why Nouri joined US diplomatic staff in heavy lobbying of Iraqi MPs -- because the SOFA was it by then. It was take it or leave it. And if Nouri left it, there was no time for something that could replace it. Not after Nouri had made a big show about how this time the agreement would go before Parliament.
Not only is he wrong about his SOFA history today, he's also reaching to portray the 'great' Moqtada as the force that will save Iraq. It's why he praises Nouri. Here's reality that a historian should grasp: Most events -- especially the great events -- are not due to one person (not even a 'man'), they are the result of the efforts and contributions of many people. Quit looking for a poster boy to stand-in as your personal savior.
Gareth wants you to know that Moqtada's made it very clear that he objects to US troops staying past the end of this year so, Gareth insists, there will be no extension of the agreement. Moqtada has been making statements, yes.
Let's note one. "And I reject, condemn and renounce the presence of occupying forces and bases on our beloved land." Hamza Hendawi (AP) quoted Moqtada stating that and noted Moqtada "urged Iraq's parliament to reject a pact that would extend U.S. presence in Iraq" and that "his followers marched through Baghdad's streets Saturday to reinforce that demand." So clearly Gareth is right on this and I'm completely wrong and -- Ooops. The AP story, use the link. It's from October 18, 2008. Yeah, just as he's protesting any extension right now and just as he did his mediocre Saturday protests (that the Baghdad-based western media lapped up), he did the same thing three years ago. And it didn't make a damn bit of difference then. Maybe it's different now. Maybe it's Maybelline. But we do have his past statements and his past stances and we can see that -- repeatedly -- he caved over and over. It could be different now. But if you're going to make predictions, you should at least be saying, "Now, unlike in 2008 . . ." Otherwise, it appears you don't know the public record.
To claim that Nouri "needs" Moqtada is especially unrealistic. And Scott Horton was right to ask "and why is that very clear" when Gareth was insisting that "it's very clear that Moqtada al-Sadr's movement will try to unseat" Nouri. There's been nothing said by Moqtada indicating that and, again, we go to the record. Doesn't mean your predictions will be true but it does let you make an informed guess. Moqtada will pull support from Nouri? Based on what? March 7, 2010, Iraq held elections. Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc came out with the most votes but Nouri was determined to hold on to the prime minister post. In April, al-Sadr held his own elections to see who his bloc should vote. From the April 7th snapshot:
Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc won 40 seats in the Parliament. Kadhim Ajrash and Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) report that Ibrahim al-Jaafari "won 24 percent of the 428,000 ballots cast in the internal referendum, ahead of al-Sadr's second cousin, Jafar Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, who obtained 23 percent, Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaidi said today in the southern city of Najaf." Al Jazeera notes that Nouri al-Maliki received 10% of the vote and Ayad Allawi 9%. The US military invaded Iraq in March 2003 (and still hasn't left).
And Moqtada said it was binding and would determine whom his bloc would support. But that didn't happen, did it? No. Moqtada's word went up against Tehran and Tehran won. Not only did his supporters not rank Nouri highly, Moqtada didn't. Bobby Ghosh (Time magazine) from October 1st, "On Thursday, Sept. 30, the day before Iraq set a world record for a parliamentary system's delay between election day and the creation of a new government, al-Sadr finally reversed himself and accepted a new term for al-Maliki, whom his spokesmen have routinely denounced as an American puppet and worse." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times), also October 1st, noted, "Until days ago he [Moqtada] fiercely opposed Mr. Maliki's re-election." Moqtada was opposed to Nouri. Until the government in Iran gave him clear orders. Moqtada as independent actor and someone with a backbone is not supported by the public record.