Thursday, January 05, 2012

Weeks ago, Nouri loudly insisted coup attempt -- now the arrested are released

It was with great drama (and melodrama) that Nouri repeatedly commented on the "terrorists" and "Ba'athists" that he was 'forced' to arrest because they were plotting an overthrow of the government. His spokesperson insisted the information was solid and had come from the newly installed Libyan government. Dropping back to the October 27th snapshot:

But back to those eyes and ears al-Asadi was claiming, Al Mada reveals that the government is stating their source for the 'tips' about the alleged Ba'athist plot to take over Iraq came from the Transitional Government of Libya. The so-called rebels. A number of whom were in Iraq killing both Iraqis and US troops and British troops, several years ago. And supposedly prepping to rule Libya currently so you'd assume they had their hands full.

Tim Arango (New York Times) maintains that "secret intelligence documents" were discovered by the so-called 'rebels' that provided a link between Libya's late president Muammar Gaddafi and Ba'ath Party members and that Mahmoud Jibril made a trip to Baghdad to turn over the info. Jibril was acting prime minister who stepped down October 23rd. (We're back to when puppet regimes meet!) One would have assumed he had other things to focus on. It's also curious that this 'rebel' would have 'learned' after the fall of Tripoli of a plot. Curious because, unlike a number of 'rebel' leaders in Libya, Langley didn't ship Jibril in from Virginia, he was Gaddafi's hand picked head of the National Economic Development Board (2007 to 2011). One would assume he would have been aware of any big plot long before the so-called rebels began the US war on Libya.

So it says a great deal about the leadership (or lack of) Nouri offers when Al Mada reports that hundreds of those arrested are now being released. And that officials say the government is expected to release every one arrested. When the arrests started taking place weeks ago, the press estimate was over 500, with some noting over 700 but most going with the lower figure. Dar Addustour informs 820 Iraqis were arrested.

Critics of the arrests noted that it appeared Nouri was targeting Sunnis. And the arrests touched off a wave of anger and a desire for independence from Nouri. Thursday, October 27th, Salahuddin Province's council voted to go semi-autonomous. Monday, December 13th, Diyala Province's council passed a decision for the province to become semi-autonomous. Semi-autonomous would make them like the three provinces that compose the Kurdistan Regional Government (Erbil, Dahuk and Sulaymaniyah) and take them out of Baghdad's control (meaning Nouri's control). If Nouri's goal (longterm) was to keep Iraq cohesive, the arrests were a huge error.

The backlash from them also forced Nouri to agree to meet Anbar Province's demands. Aswat al-Iraq reported Monday:

In a statement issued by his office, received by Aswat al-Iraq, Maliki received Anbar's governor Qassim Mohammed Abid, during which the demands submitted by the provincial authorities were discussed.
Governor Abid confirmed the agreement on the mechanism of work and the formation of a committee to follow-up these demands.
On December 20, 2012 Anbar province gave a 14-day time table for the central government to approve its 20-item demands, otherwise it will announce itself as a political region, according to its provincial council decision.

I see Ba'athists

[Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists."]

At the start of November, Babak Dehghanpisheh (Daily Beast) reported of the arrests:

One reason given for the crackdown was odd, even by Iraqi standards. A "senior official in the Iraqi government" told The New York Times last week that they had received a tipoff from an unlikely source: intelligence documents found in Tripoli after the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi indicated that the Saharan madman was helping Baathists and former military officers in Iraq to topple the government, the newspaper reported. Mahmoud Jibril, the former Libyan acting prime minister, allegedly passed on the intelligence tip to members of the Iraqi government while on a visit to Baghdad early last month.

Now a senior Iraqi official tells The Daily Beast that in fact there was no Libyan tipoff. "The Libyans didn't pass any information. This report is absolutely baseless and untrue," says the senior official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject. "This was a plan by the security to arrest people they suspect. It's a precaution to mobilize in the streets in anticipation of the American withdrawal."

At the time of the arrests, Nouri was mouthing bromides about national unity. (And apparently trying to turn Iraq into one scared, hysterical body.) Didn't work out that way for him.

Al Rafidayn reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani has joined the call for a national conference to address the political crisis.

barzani lieberman

Tuesday Barzani met with US Senator Joe Lieberman (above) .

barzani kobler

Wednesday Barzani met with the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler (above).

Nouri kicked off the political crisis by declaring Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi a "terrorist" and swearing out an arrest warrant on him while demanding the Deputy Prime Minister Saleq al-Mutlaq be stripped of his title. al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are both Sunnis as well as members of Iraqiya. Iraqiya is the political slate, led by Ayad Allawi, which came in first in the 2010 parliamentary elections. (Nouri's own State of Law came in second. They are political rivals.) Al Rafidayn notes the Kurdistan Alliance has declared that they will not support firing al-Mutlaq. (To strip al-Mutlaq of his position would require Parliament to agree with Nouri's proposal.) al-Hashemi is currently a house guest of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. This has so enraged State of Law that they've taken to calling Talabani a "terrorist" (which led to the Kurdish Alliance walking out on a session of Parliament Tuesday). Al Mada reports that State of Law is admitting that, despite rumors (mainly started and circulated by State of Law), Nouri has no terrorism files on either al-Mutlaq or Ayad Allawi.

Jalal Talabani has been calling for a national conference to address the political crisis. State of Law is stating it should happen mid-month. For months, Iraqiya, the Kurds and the National Alliance have called on Nouri to reinstate the US-brokered Erbil Agreement that ended Political Stalemate I. The parties came together in Erbil and agreed to a variety of concessions. It was agreed Nouri would continue as prime minister (despite his slate's second place showing). That's the only element Nouri honored. As soon as he was named prime minister-designate, he trashed the agreement.

On the political crisis, Jim Michaels (USA Today) quotes US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey stating, "We see ourselves as an outside party that can give advice, that can talk to the various sides and can at least urge everyone to go back from the brink when there are political controversies."

Having brokered the Erbil Agreement (and strong-armed Iraqiya to go along with it), having installed Nouri in 2006 and demanded he remain prime minister in 2010, it's a bit of a stretch for Jeffrey to bill the US "as an outside party."

Today, as Iraq is slammed again with violence, it's again worth pointing out that an independent national security council was supposed to have been created in 2010, per the Erbil Agreement, and headed by Ayad Allawi. Not only did Nouri refuse to do that, he's refused to name a Minister of Defense, a Minister of Interior and a Minister of National Security. For over a year now, those posts have been empty. And

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