Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Continued violence and occupation but rule of law?

Violence continues in Iraq, Reuters notes a Kerbala roadside bombing has claimed 3 lives and left four people injured, a Baghdad police officer was shot dead by unknown assailants "in a speeding car, using silenced weapons," which is the same scenario for the Baghdad shooting death of an employee of the Minister of Finance, 2 Mosul truck drivers were shot dead and a Mosul sticky bombing claimed 1 life.

As the violence continues, Iraq continues to do without heads of the security ministries: Ministy of Interior, Ministry of Defense and Ministry of National Security. Today Dar Addustour reports that the National Allaince is stating that the "final stages" for naming the security ministers has been reached. That stage was suppoed to have been reached in November when prime minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki was putting togehter his Cabinet. In fact, he was not supposed to move from prime miniser-designate to prime minister without naming a full Cabinet. And the Constitution gives the prime minister-designate exactly 30 days by which to name a Cabinet. SO the Constitution says that these posts will be named in 30 days. Instead, it's six months later and the positions are still vacant.

The lack of concern about filling these ministries -- when, allegedly, all US forces will be leaving Iraq in less than seven months -- is being been seen as a sign by some in the State Dept that Nouri al-Maliki plans to ask for an extension of the SOFA. Yesterday's snapshot noted:

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives doesn't appear to wonder. AP reports that Speaker John Boehner has declared that the US should keep a small (undefined number) of US troops on the ground in Iraq past 2011. Reuters quotes him stating, "I think a small, residual force should remain."

Carl Hulse (New York Times) reports, "Mr. Boehner said he had no recommendation on the size of the contingent that might remain or how long the troops should stay, but the military has been exploring the idea of a force of about 10,000, people briefed on the plan said. At the end of April, there were 47,000 American troops in Iraq."

From politics to corruption (a natural transition, some would argue), New Sabah reports Accessories Saud has received a life sentence for allegations -- he was found guilty but Iraq doesn't have a functioning justice system so we'll leave it allegations -- that he embezzled up to $15 million (in US dollars) while working for the Baghdad Municipality.

New Sabah also notes that Moqtada al-Sadr's followers insist that they must resist until the end of the US occupation of Iraq. They are planning a protest May 23rd and you can be sure the US press will go ga-ga over it as usual. Reporting on the same issue, Dar Addustour notes that the followers insist they will follow rule of law . . . after the occupation ends. That should be deeply troubling. Those who say they'll follow rule of law some day are generally revealed to be those who never follow rule of law because all their conditions for respecting the law never come to be. More importantly, the Sadr bloc is not outside of the government, they make up 40 seats in Parliament and are grossly over-represented as Cabinet heads. Revolutionaries or opponents to occupation can and often do take the position the Sadr bloc is attempting to take today. When they take that position, they are generally believable but part of the reason for that is that they offer a true resistance. You can not be part of the government and also part of the resistance. You cannot be the inside outsider.

Along with no heads of the security ministries, Iraq really has no vice presidents. Jalal Talabani, the previous president of Iraq, was re-elected president and he asked Iraq's two vice presidents to stay on until the spots could be filled but one who has stayed on has been criticized for presenting as a vice president. Today New Sabah reports that Nouri's State Of Law is stating they don't need a vice presidency. State Of Law's Khaled al-Asadi states that they see it as unnecessary and that they are pleased with the number of ministries they have been put in charge of. Also reporting on the curious story is Al Rafidayn which states that the Iraqi Supreme Islamic Council is ready to give up the post. Shi'ite Adel Abdul-Mahdi was one of the two vice presidents prior to the March 2010 elections. He is a member of the Supreme Islamic Council. They joined with other groups -- including State of Law -- to form the National Alliance. At one point, Adel Abdul-Mahdi wanted to be prime minister (he wanted that in 2005 as well and was supported by foreign oil factions).

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