Saturday, December 10, 2011

As Congress asked, 'Why is the administration still spending $500 million a year to provide this program?'

Al Mada reports that the Ministry of the Interior has declared today that they don't need trainers and that Iraq can monitor its borders and skies without any help from foreigners. Those comments came from Adnan al-Assadi, Deputy Minister of the Interior. Why is the deputy speaking and not the minister?

Oh, that's right. Despite the fact that Nouri was supposed to name a Minister of the Interior back in December 2010, he never did. The US government is about to fork over $500,000 million of US tax payer dollars for a program that has no head. (Nouri has also refused to name a Minister of National Security and a Minister of Defense.)

al-Assadi's name comes up frequently in Congress these days. Such as in Wednesday's the House Oversight and Government Reform's National Security Subcommittee hearing:

US House Rep Raul Labrador: Mr. Bowen, right now the police development program is the administration's largest foreign aid project for Iraq going forward. And there's some evidence that the Iraqis don't even want this program. So have you or your staff asked the Iraqi police forces if they need the $500 million a year program that the Obama administration is planning to spend on the police development program?

SIGIR Stuart Bowen: Yes, Mr. Labrador, we have and we reported on that in our last quarterly report noting that the senior official at the Ministry of the Interior, Senior Deputy Minister al-Assadi said "he didn't see any real benefit from the police development program." I addressed that with him when I was in Iraq a couple of weeks ago and I asked him, "Did you mean what you said?" And his response was, "Well we welcome any support that the American government will provide us; however, my statements as quoted in your recent quarterly are still posted on my website."

US House Rep Raul Labrador: So why is the administration still spending $500 million a year to provide this program?

SIGIR Stuart Bowen: There's a beliff that security continues to be a challenge in Iraq, a well founded belief, I might add, given the events of this week. Killings of pilgrims again, on the way to Najaf, on the eve of Ashura. The focus though on trying to address those problems has been a widely scattered, high level training program involving about 150 police trainers who, as we've seen again this week, are going to have a very difficult time moving about the country.

Meanwhile the bombing targeting Parliament this month continues to be in the news. Al Mada reports that there are claims of eivdence that will be presented shortly which will demonstrate that Nouri's spokesperson Qasim Atta gave false information when briefing the public and that the person driving the car is known inside the Green Zone (member of Parliament? staffer of an MP?, someone working for Nouri?). Whatever the information, it's frightened Adnan al-Assadi somewhat.

Last week, he was insisting Nouri was the target and that there was evidence to that effect and a hundred other assertions he couldn't back up. Asked to comment on the new revelations, al-Assadi suddenly declares it might have been an attack on Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and that, whether the attack was aimed at al-Nujaifi or Nouri, it was intended to be an attack on government.

Al Mada reports that Nouri al-Maliki has stated he will heed Ayad Allawi's call for reconciliation and that he states he has no personal problem with anyone. As Sheikh (Dar Addustour) points out that the two do not represent just themselves, they represent the two biggest political blocs -- Allawi represent Iraqiya which came in first in the March 2010 elections and Nouri represents State of Law which came in second. His bloc didn't come in third or even fourth, but Moqtada al-Sadr is a political player as well (both due to his militia and due to the press fascination with him). Al Rafidayn reports that he's calling for all political parties to enter into a national code of honor.

Reuters notes a Baghdad attack on a Sahwa and police checkpoint in which 1 Sahwa was killed and one police officer injured, 1 taxi driver was shot dead in Mosul, a Mosul roadside bombing injured two police officers, an Iskandariya rocket attack injured three people, a Hilla home invasion left one man and his son injured, a Kirkuk sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 "employee at state-run North Oil Company," a Kirkuk sticky bombing injured an Iraqi military officer and, dropping back to last night, four government employees were kidnapped in Dhuluiya. In addition, AFP notes, "Taha Yasin was killed by gunmen in Abu Garma village, east of Diyala capital Baquba, while Internet cafe owner Hussein Tamimi was killed by shooters using silenced weapons in Baladruz, southeast of Baquba, according to the official."

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