Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nouri's war on Iraq

Al Rafidayn notes Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani is warning about the potential collapse of the Iraqi government as a result of Nouri's latest power grab. Barzani is calling for a national conference. Dar Addustour quotes Barzani stating that what took place Sunday at Baghdad International Airport-- pulling Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq and Finance Minister Rafie al-Issawi off a flight and detaining them for several hours -- must not happen again. He insists that while security is everyone's concern, detentions must be authorized by the judiciary.

As opposed to done on Nouri's whims. The little Nouri who cried Ba'athists. Could his latest series of dramatic charges be possible? Anything is possible. But when you've gone to the well one time too many with false claims, it makes it very hard for anyone to believe you. That -- pay attention, Nouri -- was the point of the fable The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf. Jomana Karadsheh and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) remind, "Since October, Iraqi security forces have rounded up hundreds of people accused of being members of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath Party or terrorists. Iraqiya says the majority of those people are members of its political bloc and that the prime minister is simply taking out his opponents."

Zhang Ning and Wang Hongbin (Xinhua) observe, "Tension among Iraq's major political blocs has been rising, as the country's highest judiciary body issued an arrest warrant for Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi on terror charges Monday." Tony Karon (Time) explains it began with Iraqiya announcing they were withdrawing from Parliament over Nouri's inability to follow previously agreed to terms (such as the Erbil Agreement):

Maliki's response came a day later with a furious attack on the country’s two most senior Sunni politicians. First, he urged parliament to pass a vote of no confidence in Deputy Prime Minister Salih al-Mutlaq, who in a TV interview earlier this month had accused Maliki of creating a new dictatorship. More ominously, perhaps, Maliki on Monday ordered the arrest of Iraq’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi. The warrant concerns an investigation into a bombing plot uncovered inside Baghdad’s heavily protected Green Zone, in which three members of al-Hashimi’s security detail have been under investigation. Maliki has claimed to have been the target of this alleged bomb plot. Critics said the judicial panel that issued the arrest order is under the Prime Minister’s sway, and having kept the positions of Defense Minister and Interior Minister for himself, he has ensured that all of the country’s security forces answer directly to him.

The Telegraph of London points out, "The renewed political infighting has overshadowed the U.S. withdrawal and dominated Iraqi newspaper headlines on Monday." Of course, the issue is largely ignored in the US. For example, the death of Kim Jong Il is treated as major news. It's a damn death. Of someone the US government didn't care for. It's a headline and not a damn thing else unless you're in North Korea or the 30 Rock writer tasked with doing a last minute rewrite to explain how Avery Jessup-Donaghy got out of North Korea.

But let's pretend it's news?

Seriously. This death watch pageantry is offensive enough when it's someone that might have been worthy of one 7 minute story noting the passing. When it's the likes of Kim Jong Il?

Don't pretend it's news. It's conjecture. It's a lot of garbage.

Meanwhile, Iraq gets ignored. As always.

Or misrepresented as in this piece from the Miami Herald's editorial board. No, what's taking place does not indicate that the US should have left. It indicates that they should have left long ago. Without the US to back thug Nouri, he might have had to follow the country's Constitution and that would have meant no second term. Quit pretending otherwise, you're whoring is offensive. The US military took sides and looked the other way during the ethnic cleansing. They never should have been there to begin with but they damn well should have left in 2007 when Democrats were sworn in and given control of both houses of Congress. Didn't happen then. Didn't happen when Barack was elected. Didn't happen when Barack was sworn in. Barack owns this war. And his decision to circumvent the Iraqi Constitution, the will of the Iraqi people and the rule of law to give Nouri a second term as prime minister means he owns the current attacks Nouri's launching.

Nouri aired 'confessions' from al-Hashemi's bodyguards. Like Marcia, we'll note Roy Gutman and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reporting on the 'confessions':

In more than half an hour of grainy black-and-white video recordings, three men described as al-Hashimi's bodyguards detailed bomb attacks they carried out going back to 2009 that were directed against government security forces. The weapons used were bombs and pistols with silencers.
The men spoke in monotones, and it was impossible to determine if their statements were of their own free will, as claimed by al-Maliki aides, or coerced. It appeared that a small selection of their interrogations was presented, evidently edited to provide maximum support for the government position that al-Hashimi headed the chain of command of what amounted to assassination squads.

Human rights organizations have long documented the use of torture to garner 'confessions' in Iraq. We'll note this from Human Rights Watch's [PDF format warning] "The Quality of Justice: Failings of Iraq's Central Criminal Court:"

The reliance on confessions in the CCCI cases raises serious concerns about the fairness of those proceedings. Torture and other forms of abuse in Iraqi detention facilities, frequently to elicit confessions in early stages of detention, are well-documented. The reliance on confessions in the court's proceedings, coupled with the absence of physical or other corroborating evidence, raises the possibility of serious miscarriages of justice.

Jack Healy (New York Times) has a great article on the chaos but we'll emphasize this section only:

The breakdown in relations between Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and Mr. Hashimi and his Iraqiya Party arrived at an inopportune moment for the administration, coming so close to the troop withdrawal. American officials have spent years trying to urge Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government to work with the country’s Sunni minority, and are wary of having things fall apart now.

We're emphasizing this because Barack was supposed to be smart, smarter than Republicans, smarter than Bill Clinton, smarter than mere mortals. Smart people don't launch waves of Operation Happy Talk as the White House did last week. Smart people would have learned after 8 years that Iraq is not a pet that you train -- meaning it will never, ever do what you want it to. You can occupy it for another nine years and it still won't roll over or fetch when you bark out orders. The White House never should have been making those idiotic remarks last week, it's as though they cosmically invited what followed those half-baked assertions.

Aswat al-Iraq is noting that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has declared he was not consulted about the arrest warrant. The Irish Examiner notes that al-Hashemi is currently in the KRG. Al Mada explains the warrant prevents him from leaving the country. The Herald Sun carries a wire story noting that al-Hashemi is stating that the case needs to be transferred to the Kurdistan Regional Government. Al Rafidayn provides a walk-through on the law including the the charges fall under Article IV and that a conviction could result in either life imprisonment or the death penalty. Meanwhile Nouri's flunkies, Dar Addustour notes, are claiming he is the target of a death threat and that a team of assassins have been trained on foreign soil to kill him. Iraq's not that lucky, Nouri, Iraq's not that fortunate at all.

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