Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that Aziz Ugaili, National Alliance MP, is noting that over 26 security companies will remain in Iraq after December 31st and questioning the claim of US withdrawal while also expressing his fear that, in DC later this month, Nouri al-Maliki will sign an agreement with the US involving 'trainers.' Meanwhile Al Mada also reports that the Sadrist movement is declaring that the US remnants after December 31st will be fair targets and that the US is not planning to keep a small number of staff for the embassy the way other countries do. In addition, Al Mada reports that the UAE has offered their services in training Iraqi forces.
Meanwhile Nouri's announcement in February of this year that he would not seek a third term was a means to appease an angry public. More recently, his legal advisor has been telling the press that no law prevents Nouri from seeking a third term. Dar Addustour reports that MP Aziz Ugaili (National Alliance) is not proposing just such a law. If passed, it would forbid anyone from holding a third term, limit all prime ministers to two terms and the two terms would not have to be consecutive. Would it be retroactive for Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ayad Allawi? (Both have served one term as prime minister since the US invasion of Iraq.) It would have to be retroactive or it wouldn't limit Nouri to two terms. If it wasn't retroactive, that would mean Nouri could claim, "Okay, under this law, I will only serve two terms -- from the minute it passes." Thereby allowing himself four terms as prime minister.
On the issue of broken promises, Nouri promised a reduction in pay for various officials back in February 2012. Iraq just passed their 2012 budget. Dar Addustour notes that the Sadr bloc in Parliament is stating that 40% of that budget goes to the three presidencies.
Nouri's chief rival is Ayad Allawi who bested Nouri in the March 2010 elections and should be prime minister had the Constitution been followed. Rumors have been swirling that Allawi would have an announcement this week and many assumed it would be a creation of a shadow government that would be poised to take over. He has made an announcement but that wasn't it. Alsumaria TV reports:
Head of Iraqiya List Iyad Allawi announced, on Tuesday, that he is ready to reconcile with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki if he is willing to renounce his opposing stands. This is the perfect time for real reconciliation, Allawi said warning against endless tensions.
"I have no problem in shaking hands with Maliki if he renounces his opposing stands against us and others. I am not embarrassed by any cause that serves Iraqis and the region," Allawi told Alsumaria TV on Tuesday in a special interview with Jadal Iraqi talk show. "This is the perfect time for a real, honorable, realistic and healthy reconciliation," he added.
As the US military continues reposturing, the brass has one key point to make:
"We really don't know what's going to happen. But we do know this: We do know that we have done everything we can in the time that we -- that we have been here for the Iraqi security forces to make sure that they have a credible security forces to provide for the security, the internal security of their country."
That's a quote from US Lt Gen Frank Helmick that is reported by Luis Martinez (ABC News) and Courtney Kube (NBC News). Charley Keyes (CNN) emphasizes different aspects of that press conference as does Diana Ray (The Voice of Russia -- link also has video).
While the US repostures, some Iraqi provinces considering moving to semi-autonomy. Abeer Mohammed (Eurasia Review) examines this prospect:
Baghdad maintains that secessionist moves by any group would lead to bloodshed, and warns of a return to the sectarian violence which peaked in 2006-07. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said former Baathists want to use Salahuddin as a safe haven.
Iraqi government officials have long expressed fears that Baathists would try to stage a coup against the current elected government when US troops finally pull out. About 18,000 American troops now remain, from a peak of 170,000.
The US withdrawal, laid out in a 2008 bilateral agreement, comes amid ongoing instability in Iraq’s security and political situation.
Although Maliki's cabinet is half-way through its term, it is still incomplete. The parties in the governing coalition have failed to agree who should run the defence, interior and national security ministries, as well as the intelligence agency.
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