Thursday, January 12, 2012

State of Law gets snippy about Erdogan, political crisis continues

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spent the last few days noting the dangerous political crisis in Iraq and calling on efforts to address it. The response from Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law political slate? Aswat al-Iraq notes National Alliance MP Ali al-Shalah declared, "Iraq is not an Ottoman province, and never will be." Of course, factually, Iraq was once part of the Ottoman Empire until the British (via the League of Nations) divided it up in 1920. al-Shalah suggested the Turkish prime minister should "attend [to] the Turkish internal affairs, where some Turkish quarters suffer racist violations." If you use the link, you'll be saying, "Uh, you're wrong, he's National Alliance." He's State of Law. And Aswat al-Iraq knew that recently. For example, last week. This echoes State of Law's 'diplomatic' approach towards Erdogan earlier (December 30th) when Dar Addustour reported State of Law MP Yassin Majid declared that Erdogan should keep "his nose" out of Iraqi political matters.

Nouri al-Maliki caused the political crisis by targeting members of Iraqiya, his political rivals and the winners of the 2010 elections (State of Law came in second). The targeting included demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his position (hasn't happened yet) and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested for terrorism (ibid). Al Mada reports that al-Mutlaq issued a statement declaring no regrets over criticizing Nouri and stating he was behaving like a dictator. In the new statement, al-Mutlaq also declared that Nouri lacks wisdom and State of Law MP Yassin Majid -- apparently the Don Rickles of State of Law -- or at least their Joan Rivers -- responded by calling al-Mutlaq incompetent.

President Jalal Talabani has been calling for a national conference and, this week, steps have been taken to get the ball rolling on that. Yesterday came news that KRG President Massoud Barzani would not be attending if the conference is in Baghdad (that's where it's supposed to be held currently). Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports that Barzani's announcement is still being discussed. Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman states that among the reasons for Barazani's refusal to attend a Baghdad conference the failure of Nouri al-Maliki to implement the Erbil Agreement is chief among them.

Which takes us from political crisis to the Political Stalemates. Political Stalemate I began following the March 2010 elections when Nouri refused to give up power -- despite the fact that his term as prime minister was over and despite the fact that State of Law came in second, Iraqiya came in first. Per the will of the Iraqi people and the Constitution, Iraqiya should have had the prime minister-designate (prime minister-designate becomes prime minister if he or she is able to name a Cabinet in 30 days -- nominate the ministers, get Parliament to vote to approve each one).

The White House decided to back Nouri -- and not the Iraqi people or democracy which makes Barack's ridiculous statements about Iraqi elections obscene -- and when efforts were started to get the UN to appoint a caretaker government, the US blocked those efforts. Nouri was already repeatedly caught running secret prisons. Pretty much every year, Ned Parker would report for the Los Angeles Times on another just discovered secret prison. Nouri would deny it for a couple of weeks. Then, once Iraqi outrage died down, Nouri would allow that it was the only one. And then another would be discovered. And then another. The secret prisons weren't day spas. That's not why they were kept secret. They were off the book locations where torture took place. Under Nouri's command. The White House elected to back a torturer. When some idiot like David Shorr whimpers, "Why should you say Barack owns Iraq?" -- the reply is because he backed a known torturer and not the Iraqi people. And US allies objected to the White House about backing Nouri -- including England and France.

Without the White House's backing, Nouri would have been forced out of the post (his term had expired) and not hung on to it for eight months after the elections.

Political Stalemate I could have continued forever. Nouri was very happy with it. He fired his Minister of Electricity and did so with no oversight from Parliament. He illegally named another Minister of Electricity (he farmed out the duties to the Minister of Oil) again without oversight from Parliament. He did whatever he wanted.

The Erbil Agreement ended Political Stalemate I. The US brokered agreement gave Nouri the post of prime minister. In return, Nouri was supposed to do many things including hold a referendum on Kirkuk (something the Constitution required him to do by the end of 2007 but Nouri ignored the Constitution throughout his first term -- and, again, this is who Barack Obama decided to back for a second term), create an independent national security commission to be headed by Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi, and more.

Nouri got what he wanted and then trashed the agreement. He still could have been stopped -- and should have. 30 days to form a Cabinet. Failure to do so, per the Constitution, means the President (of Iraq -- maybe the use of the term "president" confused Barack?) names another person to be prime minister-designate and they have 30 days. (Actually, the wording is such that the President could conceivably name the same person to another 30 days -- if he or she was willing to put up with any political heat.) Nouri failed to come up with a full Cabinet. He could have been stopped at the end of December 2010 as his 30 days expired. But the US government had made clear he had their backing.

And that was the start of the (ongoing) Political Stalemate II. The failure on Nouri's part to honor the Erbil Agreement.

This week Asawat al-Iraq reported that Iraqiya MP Liqa' al-Wardi stated that Nouri's inability to fill the security ministries was responsible for the deterioration of Iraq's security. She focused on the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Interior. The third security ministry post is also empty, Minister of National Security. All three are Cabinet positions. All three were never filled (although he was required to). When he refused to fill them at the end of December, Nouri critics declared this a power grab and stated Nouri wasn't filling them so he could control them. US outlets usually insisted that Nouri would fill the posts in a matter of weeks. It is one year and one month later. The posts remain empty and have never been filled. Guess US outlets got punked and Nouri critics were correct.

Violence continues in Iraq as the heads of the security ministries continue to be vacant. Reuters notes a Kifl bombing which left ten people injured, a Jbela roadside bombing which left five people injured, a Baaj shooting in which 2 people were killed, a Mosul attack in which one man was killed and a Baquba roadside bombing targeting a Sahwa which left "three of his children" injured.

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