Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The continued political crisis

November 28th, there was a bombing in the Green Zone, presumably targeting the Parliament. Al Mada reports that Parliament's Security and Defense Committee has stated it will be making an announcement today on the bombing and releasing preliminary results of their investigation. Meanwhile, the political crisis continues in Iraq. Tarqi Alhomayed (Al Arabiya) feels there may be a bright spot in the crisis in that it's allowed Nouri to show his true nature, "This is because Nuri al-Maliki has moved away from the political game, and instead resorted to using force against his opponents, immediately following the withdrawal of U.S. troops. This represented a red flag to all those who are concerned about the future of Iraq. Al-Maliki is a man who has not mastered the political game, and it seems that he does not even believe in politics at all, or at least not as much as he believes in the power of force. Therefore, he has over-used what he terms 'the law,' and we now see him seeking to arrest Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, and fire his own deputy, Saleh al-Mutlaq, whilst he is also clashing with Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi." In addition, rumors swirl that the Minister of Finance, Rafie al-Issawi, will be charged with something shortly. All three are members of Iraqiya, the political slate that came in first in the March 2010 elections.

And al-Issawi teams with Ayad Allawi (former prime minister and head of Iraqiya) and Osama al-Nujaifi (Speaker of Parliament) to pen "How to Save Iraq From Civil War" in today's New York Times:

We are leaders of Iraqiya, the political coalition that won the most seats in the 2010 election and represents more than a quarter of all Iraqis. We do not think of ourselves as Sunni or Shiite, but as Iraqis, with a constituency spanning the entire country. We are now being hounded and threatened by Mr. Maliki, who is attempting to drive us out of Iraqi political life and create an authoritarian one-party state.
In the past few weeks, as the American military presence ended, another military force moved in to fill the void. Our homes and offices in Baghdad's Green Zone were surrounded by Mr. Maliki's security forces. He has laid siege to our party, and has done so with the blessing of a politicized judiciary and law enforcement system that have become virtual extensions of his personal office. He has accused Iraq's vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, of terrorism; moved to fire Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq; and sought to investigate one of us, Rafe al-Essawi, for specious links to insurgents -- all immediately after Mr. Maliki returned to Iraq from Washington, wrongly giving Iraqis the impression that he’d been given carte blanche by the United States to do so.

Tony Karon (Global Post) observes, "Maliki, both by measures of votes in parliament and control of men under arms, is stronger than any other faction leader in Iraq right now, but he’s not strong enough to rule Iraq on his own. Indeed, he has the job of prime minister only because Iran -- mindful of the importance of keeping a friendly government in Baghdad -- intervened to convince rival Shi’ite leaders, most important among them being Moqtada al-Sadr, to back another Maliki term. But other neighbors, particularly those at odds with Iran such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have other ideas. Both backed the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc that challenged Maliki, and Saudi Arabia has been engaged in proxy conflicts with Iran across the region."

Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Speaker Najaiji met in Sulaimaniya yesterday and compiled a list of four points of the political crisis. One of the points is that a national conference is needed to address the crisis and governance. The issue of Tareq al-Hashemi is another point and it is thought that the KRG judiciary could be impartial and it would be better to move the charges Nouri's lodged to the KRG judiciary and out of Baghdad. Dar Addustour notes that Parliament will hold a meeting next week to attempt to ease the crisis and that they will address the issue of Nouri's call to dismiss Saleh al-Mutlaq as Deputy Prime Minister. There are rumors that it will be suggested al-Mutlaq retain the office, remain in Iraq for a few weeks, then travel to Jordan claiming "illness" and remain in Jordan for the duration of the current Iraqi government.

Aswat al-Iraq reports, "The ratification of the Anti-Terrorism Law by the Iraqi Council of Ministers on Tuesday has stemmed from the government's keenness for the sovereignty of the law and the stability of the security in the country, the Official Spokesman of the Government, Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement on Wednesday." Actually, it's a bill. Parliament makes laws. Dar Addustour notes that it's been referred to Parliament. Al Rafidayn reports that the UN has opened a mission in Basra.

Dahr Jamail has a report for Al Jazeera. It gets a link because it's Darh. There are two problems and I'll pin that on Al Jazeera. That includes that Tareq al-Hashemi fled to the KRG. If Tareq had a warrant out for his arrest -- at that time there was no public warrant, only rumors -- then when he, Saleh al-Mutlaq and the Minister of Finance were forced off the plane (and three of al-Hashemi's bodyguards were arrested), al-Hashemi should have been taken into custody. He went to the KRG for a scheduled meeting with officials. The day after the plane incident, charges were made public and al-Hashemi has remained in the KRG. Check the archives, we covered it in real time. In addition, Nouri may say that Saleh is on 'leave' or whatever else, doesn't make it so. Nouri doesn't have that power. The power Nouri had was to ask Parliament to strip Saleh of his office. The Parliament refused last week and stated they would take the issue up in the new year.

I'll assume it's the outlet and not Dahr and assume that as Dahr covers the issues more he'll fine tune the current problems. (To be clear, he quotes an Iraqi stating Tareq fled. That doesn't matter that it's a quote. It is wrong and if the quote is included it needs to be corrected. Especially -- pay attention -- when the man says that if Tareq had not 'fled' to the KRG, he would not look guilty. But he didn't "flee" to the KRG. He went there on a scheduled meeting. And if someone's convicting al-Hashemi due to false facts, it's incumbent upon Al Jazeera to get the facts right.) I don't take it seriously at all. And that was before their selling the war on Libya and goes back to the reports I heard about why Al Jazeera bungled the Iraqi protest coverage.

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