Friday, December 16, 2011

Broken promises catch up with Nouri?

Monday, November 28th, a car bomb was detonated near Parliament -- apparently targeting Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and members of Parliament. Nouri al-Maliki was no where near the building (he was out of the country) and not scheduled to appear in the building that week; however, his spokesperson and then Nouri himself began insisting that the bombing was an attack on him. Al Mada reports that Parliament's investigation committee noted yesterday that it was a suicide car bombing which claimed the life of the driver, that none of the four people who've been taken into custody on suspicion of involvement work for the Parliament and that early signs are a group of people (men and women) based in Baghdad and Anbar Province were behind the bombing.

In other explosive news, Al Mada reports that Iraqiya has announced it is breaking off talks with the ruling bloc. Iraqiya is the political slate that came in first in the March 2010 elections. Per the Constitution, Iraqiya should have had first crack at forming the government but Nouri al-Maliki refused to surrender the post of prime minister and the US backed him allowing the Constitution and the will of the Iraqi people to be circumvented. This was the nearly eight months of Political Stalemate I following the elections. Political Stalemate I ended in November 2010 when the various blocs met in Erbil and came to an understanding outlined in the Erbil Agreement. Concessions were made by Kurds, Iraqiya and most other participants. State of Law, Nouri's political slate, which came in second made no real concessions. And once the Erbil Agreement allowed Nouri first crack at forming the government (prime minister-designate), he quickly tossed aside the Erbil Agreement thereby kicking off Political Stalemate II. The Kurds, the National Alliance and Iraqiya have been repeatedly calling in the last months for the Erbil Agreement to be honored.

When announcing that talks were over, Al Mada notes Iraqiya stated that they had given up a great deal for the good of Iraq but there was no compromise from another. That's a reference to Nouri's State of Law as well as the coalition he now heads. In giving up the right to prime minister, Iraqiya was promised (and the Erbil Agreement is in writing) that an independent security commission would be created and that Ayad Allawi would head it. That's among the many broken promises Nouri made to keep his claws on the post of prime minister.

Al Sabaah reports
that Allawi met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Tuesday and that they discussed various topics including oil-rich, disputed Kirkuk.

Jalal is an increasingly unpopular figure in the KRG -- which is why Massoud Barzani's competing political party continues to have greater support and why the new emerging Goran party continues to grow. Jalal's popularity won't be helped by the news that Dar Addustour reports: There's been no reduction in his salary or in the salaries of the vice presidencies. Not only that, the promised (in February) bill was never voted on by the Parliament.

In January and early February, scattered protests began to alarm Nouri al-Maliki. The protesters wanted improved basic services (potable water, dependable electricity, etc.), jobs and for the government to stop "disappearing" people. The protesters were also noting the vast corruption in Iraq and how an election had been held but the president, vice presidents and prime minister remained the exact same people who held the posts before the election.

Facing this discontent as discontent raged throughout the region (most prominently in Egypt), Nouri attended to head off the protests (and Moqtada al-Sadr rushed in to help Nouri) by promising a number of things. He would solve the corruption in 100 days -- just give him 100 days, Moqtada insisted -- and, right now, Nouri would promise reductions in government salaries, including his own. His salary was never reduced nor was Jalal's.

More broken promises from Nouri (and Iraq's First Lady Moqtada al-Sadr).

Polling brings more bad news for Nouri. Al Sabaah reports on a poll of Iraqis in which 70% say that they do not have access to all items the ration cards are supposed to provide. That's bad enough but it gets worse. All of Nouri's February promises of improvement? The people aren't seeing it. 80% of Iraqis say that there's been no efforts to repair the sewage systems in the areas that they live in, 68% state that there's no improvement in the water. Meanwhile Al Mada reports on a poll by the Arab Center for Studies which found that most in the MidEast region feel Iraq will be the next country hit by the "Arab spring."

This is not good news for Nouri who rightly feared in February that the Iraqi people were more than just disappointed in him. On the issue of the "disappeared" -- arresting peole and disappearing them so that families have no idea if their loved ones are even alive, that's not been addressed and Nouri's latest crackdown on "Ba'athists" (he sses them everywhere) only reminded Iraqis of the lack of improvement.

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A foundation of the Bush doctrine was that the president can do whatever he wants. Bush didn’t, however, openly order the killing of U.S. citizens. That Barack Obama just sent drone strikes to kill 3 three U.S. citizens (Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric, his 16 year old son, and another associate in Yemen) and justifies it is a horror. This is monstrous immorality – no government should be allowed to kill with impunity, much less from a distance, in secret, off a battlefield. These actions are not making the world, nor people in this country, safer. Someone needs to say: Crimes are crimes, no matter who does them.
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