Monday, January 09, 2012

Who blinks first -- Baghdad or KRG?

AFP reports that bombings today targeting pilgrims in Iraq have resulted in one death and twenty-four people being left injured -- 1 dead and nine injured in Owairij and fiften injured in Hilla. Reuters notes the Hilla bombing was yesterday and the injured were Afghanistan pilgrimas, they count 2 dead in a Baghdad roadside bombing with twelve more pilgrims injured, they also note the following Sunday night violence just making the news cycle: a Balad home bombing targeting a police officer which left him "his wife and three children" injured, a Falluja home bombing targeting a police officers home which injured two of the officers' relatives, Baghdad police shot dead a suspect, Iraqi soldiers in Mahmudiya shot dead a suspect, and 1 city government worker was shot dead in Kirkuk.

As the violence continues, so does the political crisis. Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) offers an analysis and we'll note this paragraph:

"I think it was a bad mistake for the US not to say in 2010 that Maliki was unacceptable to them," said a Western diplomat formerly posted to Baghdad. He argued that Mr Maliki should have been rejected because he was a sectarian Shia intent on building an authoritarian state and that this state is corrupt and dysfunctional. Corruption is at a level whereby state funds are simply transferred abroad to shell companies secretly owned by officials at home. Unemployment is between 25 and 40 per cent. Inability to provide an adequate supply of electricity has been a notorious failing of the post-Saddam state, but the electricity ministry still managed to agree to pay $1.3bn to a bankrupt German company and a non-existent Canadian one. The government's budget is spent mainly on salaries and pensions, with recipients often connected to the ruling parties.

Not only did they refuse to say he was unacceptable, they demanded that he continue as prime minister. The Iraqi people voted in March 2010. Nouri's State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya. Instead of respecting the will of the voters and the Iraqi Constitution, the US government set out to circumvent both. It was as ugly and offensive as the US Supreme Court installing second place Bully Boy Bush over first place Al Gore. And it sent the message to Iraqis that (a) their votes didn't matter, (b) the Constitution didn't matter and (c) that the whole thing was a farce. This was a very big thing, the elections. Iraqiya was labeled "Ba'athists" by State Of Law, the Justice and Accountability Commission (whose term had expired) suddenly resurfaced to begin banning Iraqiya candidates from running, in the lead up to the elections, several Iraqiya candidates were shot dead, state media was claiming Nouri's State of Law would come in first -- state media and, of course NPR, Quil Lawrence has never corrected nor explained his 'report' two days after the elections where he insisted Nouri had won -- this before ballots had been counted. We'll explain partly for Quil. His 'poll' that he based that on? It was the poll Nouri's State of Law released to the press. In other words, State of Law announced they had won -- before votes were counted -- and Quil ran with it as truth. (It would take days and days to count votes. And then Nouri would throw a fit and demand a recount.) Despite all of that, Iraqis turned out and voted and, thanks to the US, were left to wonder why they even bothered?

This was an issue raised in the Iraqi protests in 2011 -- that the prime minister stayed the same, that Jalal Talabani remained President and the two Vice Presidents remained the same, so why did they even vote? They also protested the corruption, the disappearance of loved ones into the so-called judicial system, the lack of jobs and the lack of public services (reliable electricity, potable water, etc.)

Dar Addustour reports that protests took place in Sulaymaniyah Province today over public services and the claims were put forward that there are planned projects. Lots of 'planning' but Iraqis still see no results.

Nouri al-Maliki returned to Baghdad from DC last month and promptly began acting as if he had run out of meds. He demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post and he would order the arrest of Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi soon after. Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are members of Iraqiya. Nouri insists that al-Hashemi is also a terrorist and to 'prove' it ordered 'confessions' played over state TV -- in violation of the Constitution's innocent until/unless found guilty in a court of law. By the time Nouri ordered the arrest, Tareq al-Hashemi was already visiting the KRG on official business. Since the arrest warrant was announced, he has remained in the KRG as a guest of Jalal Talabani. Al Mada reports Allawi says that al-Hashemi must be tried before an independent judiciary -- not Baghdad's judicial system which Nouri controls. The paper notes that Allawi met in Sulaymaniyah Saturday night with Talabani and in Erbil yesterday with Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani.

Al Rafidayn notes that Baghdad made an official request to the KRG to hand over al-Hashemi. Baghdad admits that it has no power to enter the KRG and arrest al-Hashemi. Nor do they have any control over the Kurdish judiciary.

And now we drop back to the roundtable we did at Third on Christmas Day:

Betty: C.I., can the KRG continue to protect al-Hashemi and what's the status on al-Mutlaq?

C.I.: The Parliament has stated that Nouri is incorrect in his assertion that the law is on his side, they've stated the law is unclear. That's only a temporary time saver. If the law is unclear, it's left to the judiciary to resolve the issue and the Iraqi judiciary has long been seen as a rubber stamp for Nouri. So right now, Tareq al-Hashemi can remain in the KRG but what happens if the judiciary rules? I have no idea. Now the Iraqi judiciary could rule and, this could be a trump card, the KRG could respond, "Okay, well that's what it says about Baghdad, but we're the KRG and we have our own courts so we'll take the issue to our courts." That could further delay it. The KRG courts might determine the law -- they'll have to go by intent if they're using Iraqi law but I don't know why the KRG would not use their own law, I think they would and give it greater emphasis -- said Tareq al-Hashemi had to be handed over. In which case, the KRG officials might hand Tareq al-Hashmi over. But what if the KRG courts, citing KRG law, stated the KRG cannot hand him over? Then you'd have a conflict and how that gets resolved would be something the whole world would watch.

That conflict may be arriving. Dar Addustour notes the Baghdad request for al-Hashemi and the fourteen people with him and they note the head of the Kudristan Judicial Council held a press conference yesterday. Judge Dhatiar Hamid acknowledged that the request from Baghad had been received; however, Hamid declared that they are not the police and they also do not take orders from Nouri al-Maliki. The judge wondered why al-Hashemi wasn't arrested at the airport (Baghdad International) instead of bringing the KRG into it. Noting that al-Hashemi is Talabani's house guest, the judge wondered how you would even go about arresting him.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Here's Nouri" went up last night. 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) -- topics explored include an update on Guantanamo by Michael Ratner on the tenth anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay prison, attorney Roger Wareham discusses the January 12th International People's Tribunal on War Crimes and Other Violations of International Law, California State University professor David Klein on the plan to build the Cornell and The Technion of Israel in NYC and CCR attorneyy Darius Charney on NYC's stop and frisk policies.

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