Monday, December 19, 2011

Little Saddam continues his attempted power grab

A little behind the times, Al Rafidayn reports this morning that Tareq al-Hashemi was allowed to fly out of Baghdad International Airport to Sulaimaniya in the KRG yesterday (where he was to attend a meeting with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani) -- after he and several others were forced off the plane. Tareq al-Hashemi is one of Iraq's vice presidents. There were two Shi'ite vice presidents and al-Hashemi (who is Sunni); however, one resigned this summer for political reasons. Yesterday, Tareq al-Hashemi, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and various bodyguards were forced off a plane departing from Baghdad to the KRG. Three of al-Hashemi's bodyguards were arrested and with Nouri's government claiming that other of al-Hashemi's bodyguards had confessed to being 'terrorists.' Alsumaria TV quotes from a statement issued by al-Hashemi's office, "We are being extremely patient and we expect a rational behavior from concerned governmental parties."

Rationality? From Little Sadam, aka Nouri al-Maliki?

Don't hold your breath on that one.

As Dar Addustour notes, Nouri is also calling for confidence to be withdrawn on al-Mutlaq and that Shwani Khalid, head of the Parliamentary Legal Committee. Al Sabaah notes Nouri's trusted lackey Yassin Majeed went on television and stated that al-Mutlaq is not fit to hold office. If that is what Nouri is pursuing, that means he's attempting to prosecute al-Mutlaq for the statements that have Nouri enraged. For those who've forgotten, Nouri attempted to sue a member of Parliament (Sabah al-Saadi) only a few months back (September).
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.
For those wondering how an insult, any insult, rises to the level of criminal, this AFP report (in French) explains that Nouri's complaint utilizes a law from the reign of General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Article 226 of the 1969 Criminal Code which made it a crime for anyone to insult a member of Parliament, the government, the courts, armed forces, etc.

That was in September. Immunity prevented Nouri from going any further. And if MPs want to call Nouri a dictator they can. (Sadly they can only do that, under the current understanding of Iraqi law, because they have immunity as an MP. Citizens, under the current understanding of Iraqi law, most likely lack that freedom of expression in Iraq.) Nouri's efforts to have the man kicked out of Parliament failed so Team Nouri (advisors and attorneys) began telling the press that as soon as the man's term in Parliment expired (they didn't appear to think the man could be re-elected), he would be arrested. (For calling Nouri a dictator.)

al-Mutlaq said Nouri was acting dictatorial. For that 'crime,' Nouri must strip him of his status which confers immunity if he's going to have him arrested.

Rumors have swirled over the weekend that Nouri already has an arrest warrant out on Tareq al-Hashemi. al-Sabaah notes the rumor and also notes that it was announced a committee of five judges had been formed to explore charges against al-Hashemi. Aswat al-Iraq notes,"Informed sources said yesterday that a detention warrant was issued against Hashimi following accusation directed against his office director and member of his bodyguards for 'terrorist' actions, as it was described." Dar Addustour adds that Nouri is planning on bringing charges Tuesday. Mahmoud al-Mashhadani (former Speaker of Parliament -- the US and Nouri ran him off in Nouri's first term), former prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Osama al-Nujaifi (Speaker of Parliament currently) are said to be among those attempting to dissuade Nouri from his current course, insisting he will be creating a political crisis.

On yeserday's All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers offered this take:

Kelly McEvers: Here in Kuwait, just having crossed over the border, we have all these US commanders telling us that they're leaving Iraq in a better place, that it's a thriving democracy. Yet in Baghdad it looks like you have Prime Minister Maliki -- who is a Shi'ite and whose government is Shi'ite -- going after his rivals who are Sunnis. Just yesterday, charges were announced against the Vice President who is Sunni and troops surrounded his house. The Maliki government accuses him of being involved in a terrorist plot. But Maliki's detractors say this is sectarian revenge. So you know we've got these promises from US commanders that things are going really well but this kind of national reconciliation government looks like it's unraveling.

Ammar Karim (AFP) reports
that "al-Hashemi has been barred from travelling overseas".

Iraq's Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi has been barred from travelling overseas, officials said on Monday, the latest development in a political crisis shortly after US troops completed a pullout.
Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak, both Sunnis and members of the secular Iraqiya bloc, have come under increasing pressure, with three of the vice president's bodyguards arrested in connection with "terrorist activity" and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki calling for Mutlak to be sacked.

CNN's Arwa Damon and Mohammed Tawfeeq explain:

His rivals say that al-Maliki still controls the country's security ministries and all decisions go through him. They also say that the hundreds of people seized by the government in October for backing terrorism and supporting the banned Baath Party are Iraqiya supporters.
Iraqiya spokesman Haider al-Mulla said the bloc has always warned about power-sharing and deal's risks that al-Maliki's State of Law Alliance party has been violating the law.

Al Mada notes that US Vice President Joe Biden is said to be mediating between Nouri and al-Mutlaq. The above issues will be raised at the State Dept briefing where adults make up the press corps. By contrast, there are about three adults in the White House press corps so the issues may be ignored so that they can suck up to Jay Carney by laughing at his bad jokes and pretending not to notice that he's aging quick in the job (with the thickening middle and the thinning hair, lying takes it toll on the soul).

Law Professor Michael Kelly offers an analysis of Iraq in "Iraq 2003 to 2012: A Tragedy in Three Acts" (Jurist):

Act 3 of this tragedy need not have occurred. But short-term accommodations, lack of long-term vision, and the failure to adequately build up this country on the civil side of the equation make it almost inevitable. True, overly creative lawyering for ill purposes can lead to bad consequences, as in Act 1. But lawyers tend to bring some level of stability if they operate within the rule of law and agree on the basic social contract of the country underlying their legal framework. Iraq does not have this. Fights are resolved with guns, not words. Their constitutionalism has not developed to the point of self-government yet, as seen in Act 2. We shall see by the end of 2013 which path Iraq takes in Act 3. I hope it is one of peace and stability. I fear this will not be the case.

Susan Candiotti and Ross Levitt (CNN -- link is text and video) have a strong report on Iraq War veteran Jessica Lynch.
On this week's Law and Disorder Radio -- a weekly hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) -- they explore predator drones, lasers, the Holy Land Foundation case with Noor Elashi (daughter of Ghassan Elashi) and cover the forum in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal by featuring the presentations of MOVE's Ramona Africa, poet Amiri Baraka, attorney Michael Coard and Mumia's daughter Goldi.

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