Monday, February 06, 2012

Judge tries to strip Iraqiya MP of immunity

Iraq is setting records for executions -- over 50 this year so far. Al Mada reported on Thursday that the Iraqi Embassy in Riaydh (Saudi Arabia) was explaining that although they were carrying out death sentences, they did not have any Saudi prisoners who were of or worked for the royal family of Saudi Arabia. Yet Saturday, Al Mada reports, the same Iraqi Embassy announced they were delaying the execution of Saudis and, oops, they needed to review the list of names because there may have been an error and the list of names i compiled from multiple lists from multiple locations in Iraq so the Ministry of Justice is going to review the list to determine which names are on it and which aren't. Accuracy on a list of people to be executed is, apparently, only important if another country objects to your lists. Al Rafidayn reports the Iraqi Central Criminal Court handed down a death sentence today on a man who allegedly kidnapped two French citizens (brothers) and someone with the Iranian consul. Allegedly? The man gave a 'confession' (including that he had killed one of the brothers). Iraq''s 'confessions' tend to result from prolonged torture. This is made more even more likely when we're discussing crimes from 2004.

I typed that. Had I said it and been part of Iraq's Parliament, Nouri's judiciary would be coming after me. Al Rafidayn reports that the Supreme Judicial Council has notified the Parliament that they want the immunity (that all members of Parliament are granted) lifted from MP Haidar al-Mullah because he noted that the judiciary was politicized. One of the judges over Iraq's 160 courts is stating that this statement was a personal "assault" and is demanding that the immunity be lifted. (If this lifting of immunity took place, not noted in the story, it would the first time such a thing happened. It would set a very dangerous precedent.) al-Mullah, no surprise, is a member of Iraqiya. Nouri's targeting them and now the court he controls is as well. al-Mullah states the judge in question is Judge Sayad al-Lami. The article notes other members of Iraqiya may be targeted -- two who share stories of requests from months ago that were apparently not followed up on.

Iraqiya came in first in the March 2010 elections. That should have been the end of Nouri al-Maliki as prime minister (his State of Law came in second). But the White House wouldn't hear of it. With their backing, he began an eight-month long stalemate where nothing could move forward. And like the spoiled child he is, he got humored. In November 2010, various parties met in Erbil and signed off on the US brokered Erbil Agreement which would allow Nouri to remain prime minister in exchange for other agreements -- such as Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) leading an independent national security counsel and the referendum on Kirkuk finally taking place (the Constitution required that it take place at the end of 2007, Nouri refused to obey the Constitution in his first term). Nouri got the post he wanted and then trashed the Erbil Agreement. Since this summer, the Kurds have been calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement. Iraqiya joined them in that call. In October, Nouri insisted a "coup" had been discovered -- by Libya, no less -- and ordered the arrests of over 800 Sunnis -- including elderly college professors -- and this was the beginning of his targeting of Sunnis and Iraqiya (a mixed coaltion which recognizes Sunni, Shi'ites, Turkmen, et al -- all Iraqis). In December, after several photo ops with US President Barack Obama -- who couldn't stop slobbering over Nouri and the 'democracy' he was leading in Iraq -- Nouri returned to Iraq and immediately had tanks surround various Iraqiya officials homes in Baghdad. He declared that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq should be stripped of his post (and immunity) for remarks al-Multaq made comparing Nouri to Saddam Hussein and began insisting that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi was a terrorist. After making this assertion for several days (Saturday and Sunday) and having al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq (and their bodyguards) pulled off a flight to the KRG (they were then allowed to fly out there for their meetings), Monday (December 19th) arrived and Nouri issued an arrest warrant for Tareq al-Hashemi.

Al Mada notes al-Hashemi has filed another request for his case to be transferred to Kirkuk. Rudaw interviews al-Hashemi. Excerpt:

Rudaw: Are you sure you can prove your innocence in a court of law?

Tariq al-Hashimi: I can defend myself and my bodyguards. According to what I have heard, one of my bodyguards, Major Ahmed Shawqi, had bought a car and sold it later. The car was later used in a suicide car bomb in Madayin area. I didn’t know about it at that time but knew that he was a car dealer before he started working with me. That’s all I have heard and frankly I wouldn’t expect him to be involved in any illegal acts. Regarding myself, I can defend myself anytime in a fair trial. I hope my guards are also provided that opportunity, and justice according to the law. I am optimistic that whenever there is proper justice, then I will go before a court and defend myself. Because there is a lawsuit, I am not evading responsibility. All I have asked for is a fair trial. That kind of trial cannot be provided under the current circumstances in Baghdad. Therefore, I have asked the trial to be transferred to another place, based on Article 55 of Iraq’s Penal Code. This is a normal procedure and has to do with protecting my life and will also provide the chance for the facts to be discovered. I have been deprived of this legal right and they won’t allow for the trial to be transferred to Kirkuk.

Rudaw: Do you feel that your presence in the Kurdistan Region has put the Kurdish authorities in a tough position?

Tariq al-Hashimi: I am now a guest of the leadership and all citizens of this (Kurdistan) Region. If they feel Tariq al-Hashimi’s presence has embarrassed them, then God’s land is immense and I have not really forced them (to have me here). I came here based on a demand from President Jalal Talabani. I am still holding the vice-president’s post and have not resigned. I have not been also removed from my position by Parliament. So, I am still a government employee. The president has asked me to stay in Kurdistan and Mr. Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Region, has said ‘Tariq al-Hashimi is our guest.’ I have been staying in Kurdistan based on this. Whenever the people of this region no longer want to host me, then God’s land is vast. I really do not want my presence here to cause the smallest embarrassment to the leadership and people of Kurdistan.

Ali Hussein (Al Mada) contributes a column that notes some close to Nouri desire for Iraqiya to be hit by an earthquake, the real question for Iraqis is whether or not it is in the country's interest to allow some politicians to carry out their plans to rid the country of their political opponents. (The column deals a great deal with Syria. We've avoided joining the drum pounding for war on Syria. But we might pick up up the topic of the US drum pounders today. I do not favor war on Syria and the US needs to stay the hell out. They will not do the limited protesters in Syria any good by invading the country. And the US' ill will towards the Syrian government has been a constant regardless of which political party controlled the White House. I'm fully aware that NPR has enlisted in pimping the war and that Kelly McEvers is becoming a cheap joke even in Pentagon circles because she's whored so much on air to help the White House start a war with Syria. And, to be clear, Ali Hussein is not calling for war on any country. But I'm explaining why I'm not interested in pulling Syria into the Iraq sphere currently.)

While the political crisis continues, the security situation continues to falter. Al Mada notes that the adviser to the minister on reconciliation noted Saturday that Nouri's government will 'close' the "Awakenings" (Sahwa, Sons Of Iraq) this year. Al Mad had previously reported on the talk of this taking place, this is a report on the official announcement having been made. As Sahwa gets phased out, Ali al-Saadi (Dar Addustour) reports "military expert" Abbas al-Awad has declared that Iraq's military has been invaded and sweeping changes and a review of all the appointments that have been made must take place to purge it of "terrorist elements." The ease with which car bombs have made it through checkpoints is something the analyst finds especially disturbing.

We will cover Iraqi women in the snapshot today. We may or may not cover Syria. But I promise Iraqi women will make the snapshot.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Softball & Footsie Interview" 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 Mumia Abu-Jamal being in General Population, Guantanamo, OWS, and, with professor William O. Beeman, Iran.

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