Thursday, June 02, 2011

Iraqiya walks, disinterested US press whines, 'What's groovy Moqtada doing?'

Aswat al-Iraq reports that Sheikh Hameed Ahmed was assassinated today in Falluja. This continues the steady wave of assassinations and assassination attempts that have plagued Iraq since the March 2010 elections -- a wave that has only increased in the last three months. Meanwhile Bloomberg News and the San Francisco Chronicle report, "The U.S. is failing to meet "key milestones" leading up to the planned handover of responsibilities in Iraq from the U.S. military to the State Department on Oct. 1, according to a report being issued tomorrow by State Department's Inspector General."

And is that really a surprise?

They're not meeting the needed deadlines (US government isn't). It's not as if the White House isn't pushing to extend the SOFA.

You know what the real surprise is?

Iraq benchmarks.

Barack should have no say in extending or not extending the US presence in Iraq -- via DoD or state Dept. Why?

Because continued monies given to Iraq by the US tax payer were dependent upon the benchmarks. The (Bush) White House wrote the benchmarks. But it was the (Democratically-controlled) Congressthat insisted on them.

Back then, you may remember, Democrats in Congress pretended to want the Iraq War over and want it over immediately. So they gave a lot of "Mr. President . . ." speeches including noting that there was no progress. The White House would insist there was. The benchmarks were supposed to provide the Congress and the American people with a means to measure what was taking place in Iraq.

The GAO hasn't bothered to examine the benchmarks since 2008. However, it should also be noted that the GAO is an arm of Congress and only researches and studies what it's instructed to by Congress. How interesting that Congress lost interest in measuring 'progress' in Iraq as soon as they believed a Democrat would win the 2008 elections.

The benchmarks were not only signed off on by the White House and the US Congress, they were also signed off on by Nouri al-Maliki. As Barack attempts to extend the US military presence in Iraq, as Democratic House Rep Adam Smith insists he's okay (and he says other Dems are as well) with 10 to 20,000 US troops remaining in Iraq, the American tax payer should be pointing out that the benchmarks were supposed to be met and that the Congress said if they weren't met the funding for the Iraq War stopped.

, Iraqiya pulled out of the government/went on strike/however you want to word it. Reading this morning's US papers, it's amazing to find no coverage of this. Especially from outlets such as the New York Times which has obsessed in print repeatedly over Moqtada al-Sadr's threat to pull his small bloc out of the government. Moqtada has 39 seats in Parliament (40 if you're genereous). Iraqiya has how many?

Well it won the most seats of any competing slate and that number is 91. Iraqiya has seen a splintering with a small number of members spinning off into White Iraqiya. Whether they would followthe decision or not is an actual news story. (My guess is they would not.) But even without them, Iraqiya still controls far more seats than Moqtada.

Should Iraqiya and it's splinter stick together on this issue, they could force Nouri to give into other major blocs (such as al-Hakim's) and could force him to court MPs representing the religious minorities because he would need every vote possible to pass legislation.

That's a news story.

And Ayad Allawi, leader of Iraqiya, did not just suddenly wake up yesterday and decide, "I feel like departing the government today." This threat has been floated for months now. It was made implicit early in May with Allawi speaking of it freely. Last week, the Arab media was filled with various columns and reports attempting to assess how serious Allawi was and what the chances were that Iraqiya would walk?

So there's no excuse for the New York Times of "We were taken by surprise!"

There silence on the issue also demonstrates that they're really not interested in whether people leave Nouri's government, they're just interested in All Things Moqtada. Repeating, Iraqiya has far more seats in Parliament than does Moqtada's bloc. The bloc the Times can't shut up about.

Why did Iraqiya walk? The Erbil Agreement not being implemented and, yes, that's a hard news story as well. Dar Addustour obviously agrees.

So what today really reveals about the US press is that we have a lot of people fascinated with Moqtada, a lot of fans, just not a whole lot of reporters.

Alsumaria TV notes, "State of Law Coalition senior official Kamal Al Saidi accused Al Iraqiya List of trying to sap the political regime and complicate the situation in Iraq. Some of Al Iraqiya’s demands are alarming and unconstitutional mainly regarding the demand to cancel the Justice and Accountability Commission, Al Saidi argued."

The US press also ignores this story that Al Rafidayn and every other outlet is reporting. And that goes back to the benchmarks. We'll tie it together in the snapshot.

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