Thursday, September 22, 2011

The dictator Nouri

Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports on Moqtada al-Sadr's criticism of Nouri al-Maliki swearing out an arrest warrant for Sabah al-Saadi claiming that criticizing Nouri is a threat to national security (see yesterday's snapshot). al-Sadr has called out the move and compared it to a new dictatorship and issued a call for the government to work on inclusion and not exclusion. Another Al Mada report notes Sadr declaring that Nouri needs to drop this issue and focus on the needed political work. It's noted that the Sadr bloc waited until Moqtada issued a statement to weigh in and that the Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barazni declared that the Kurdish bloc would not support a vote to strip al-Saadi of his immunity. As a member of Parliament, Sabah al-Saadi should be immune to Nouri's arrest warrant for the 'crime' of speech. Currently, the warrant exists but cannot be executed due to the immunity members of Parliament have. So in addition to filing charges against al-Saadi, Nouri and State of Law (his political slate) are also attempting to strip a member of Parliament of his immunity.

But that's not all. Nouri has a back up plan. Should the Parliament not agree to strip al-Saadi of his immunity, the warrant will stand through 2014 when al-Saadi's term expires (al-Saadi's decided not to run again or Nouri's made that decision and intends to utilize the Justice and Accountability Commission to keep him from running?) at which point all-Saadi would be a citizen (without immunity) and then the warrant can and will be executed. In addition, Al Mada notes the claim that immunity can be stripped of a member of Parliament if half-plus-one of those in attendance vote in favor of the motion.

Dar Addustour reports that al-Saadi could face as much as five years in prison if convicted of the charges. Dar Addustour also notes the open speculation that Judge Medhat al-Mahmoud, President of the Supreme Judicial Council, caved and issued the warrant in the first place because he's been threated by Nouri. al-Mahmou has ties to the regime of Saddam Hussein and Nouri's made it clear, the rumors go, that charges can be brought against the judge as a result.

Tim Arango (New York Times) misses all the above but does ponder what Moqtada al-Sadr's future role in Iraq might be, "But Mr. Sadr also seems to be trying out several other roles, including street provocateur and vocal resister of American influence. The direction he decides on will determine in great part the immediate future of the country as the American military role diminishes." While I grasp the press' never-ending fascination with their own creation, a reality check will demonstrate quickly that pondering over what might happen to Moqtada is not really news but Nouri al-Maliki's attempt to have an MP arrested is news. So why is it that the New York Times still can't find that story? This is day three of our covering it.

Meanwhile Dar Addustour reports that Nouri has publicly stated the Justice and Accountability Commission would be phased out, that's not the plan at all and that Nouri intends to install Mohammed Xiaa, current Minister of Human Rights, as the person in charge of the commission and will continue to use the commission to force political opponents out of elections.

The e-mail address for this site is