Friday, March 23, 2012

The Arab Summit and continued political crisis

The Sun Daily also notes, "Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said Malaysia is prepared to sen[d] a special peacekeeping team on a humanitarian mission to Iraq if the costs of operation were to be sponsored by other countries." The Defense Minister is quoted stating, "There's a request for Malaysia to sen[d] a team to Iraq and one particular country has also agreed to bear the costs of operation, but since the country has yet to keep its promise, we cannot send the team to Iraq." Meanwhile Reuters notes a Kirkuk prison break that has 19 prisoners on the loose.

Still on security news, KUNA reports, "All necessary security precautions have been taken in preparation for upcoming Arab summit due to be hosted by Baghdad in the end of this month, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior announced on Friday." The Arab League Summit is set to take place next week in Baghdad. Alsumaria TV notes the announcement as well and -- a press release from the Ministry of Interior -- and that the release claims that terrorists are attempting to create an atmosphere of hysteria. An atmosphere of hysteria? Like Nouri's comments reported by Al Rafidayn that Tuesday's attacks was carried out by terrorist including security officers inside the Iraqi security forces? Citing an unnamed security source, Al Mada reports that Nouri has ordered the closure of at least one bridge and that Baghdad barrier walls are going back up. It's already been reported that Baghdad's about to impose a seven-day 'holiday' and that Bahgdad International Airport will be closed to commercial flights. Salam Faraj and Abdul Jabbar (AFP) observe, "The Iraqi capital's already gnarling traffic has all but ground to a halt, and the government has declared a week of holidays on the days surrounding the March 27-29 summit to encourage people to stay at home." Iraq's a country already plagued with high unemployment and rocketing inflation. Now Faraj and Jabbar report that the prices in Baghdad markets are soaring due to transportation issues as a result of the barriers and checkpoints that have been going up.

On the topic of violence, Charles Tripp (Open Democracy) offers:

Violence in Iraq has now become a central part of the practice of power, both by the government and by certain non-governmental agencies, some of them bitterly opposed to, but others enmeshed in the webs of government practice. For the government of Iraq under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the ever unfinished project of re-establishing the power and thus, he hopes, the authority of the central state has often taken a violent form. This has been clear ever since the campaigns in 2008 that saw a reconstituted, if not always very effective, Iraqi army reconquer a number of Iraq’s provinces, with campaigns in the south in Basra, the east of Baghdad, the north in Mosul and the north-east in Diyala.
At the time and in the context of the country’s emergence from a bloody civil war, these campaigns were strongly supported by the US and others who saw this precisely as a token of the ‘resolve’ and the ‘seriousness’ of the fragile Iraqi government. The fact that al-Maliki had attached to his personal command perhaps the most effective and ruthless of the units of the reconstituted Iraqi armed forces, the Baghdad Brigade, was believed to assist the state-creating project. Equally, the close and some might say politically unhealthy interest that al-Maliki took in officers’ careers, promotions and transfers within the Iraqi armed forces through his own Office of the Commander in Chief was regarded as merely fitting if he wanted ‘to get the job done’.
The problem, as many Iraqis began to discover, lay in what else was coming into being as a consequence. In public, the military presence was meant to symbolise al-Maliki’s grip on power and his capacity to restore order, as his coalition ‘The State of Law’ promised. It was highly visible and clearly aimed at demonstrating both that the withdrawal of the US forces in 2010/2011 would not leave Iraq defenceless, and that the government was in full control. The effect, however, in the words of one Iraqi was that ‘we live as under an army of occupation’. Given the continuing threat of violence from insurgents of one kind and another, this may have been reassuring for some. However, it also seemed to bring with it the idea that any kind of open or public opposition could and should be met with force. Most notoriously, this was evident in the ferocious response in 2011 to any Iraqis who dared to demonstrate during 2011 in the spirit of the ‘Arab Spring’. Thus, whether in Tahrir Square in Baghdad, or in Basra, Mosul or in the Kurdish region in Sulaimaniyya, peaceful protestors were killed, abused and beaten up on the orders of authorities for which violence has become the default response to opposition.

And the political crisis continues in 'free' Iraq. Salah Nasrawi (Al-Ahram Weekly) notes the various elements of the crisis beginning with Nouri's second term as prime minister and then emphasizes the speech KRG President Massoud Barzani gave this week (Tuesday):

Barzani also said that Baghdad had asked the Kurdish administration to let Al-Hashemi leave Iraq in order to avoid being put on trial, something which amounted to accusing Al-Maliki's government of hypocrisy.

"Our response was that we do not work as [people] smugglers and we won't do it," Barzani told a gathering of his Kurdistan Democratic Party in Erbil, the Kurdish provincial capital, last Thursday.
Barzani also lambasted the Baghdad government over other long-running disputes, such as oil and power-sharing with the central government. He renewed criticisms of Al-Maliki's authoritarian style of government and of his alleged attempts to marginalise the Kurds and Sunnis.
"Some in Baghdad believe they are the rulers of Iraq and want to work unilaterally," he said. "They are losers who have failed to give Iraq anything, unlike what we have done for our people in Kurdistan, and they want us to be like them," Barzani said, echoing criticisms by many Iraqis that al-Maliki's government has failed to bring security and restore basic services to Iraq some seven years after assuming power.

Jasim Alsabawi (Rudaw) notes
attacks on Barzani from various members of Nouri's circle. The article also includes advice beyond stupid but I'm biting my tongue because Ava and I already told Jim we'd cover the same stupidity (but from American politician) at Third this weekend. Alsumaria TV notes that the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq is calling for a dialogue and blah blah. Now they're concerned. Massoud Barzani wasn't covering new terrain. He was responding to what's been going on for months and it is a false narrative to act as if Barzani's now 'started' something. This is the political crisis. It's cute the way so many are eager to be Nouri's lackeys and play dumb when anyone Nouri's tried to oppress or eliminate bothers to respond publicly.

Lackeys? Is that Victoria Nuland I hear howling off-key?

"We strongly disagree with [Mr. Allawi's] characterization of our relationship with the government of Iraq and the role we have played to keep the Iraqi political process on track." Why, yes, it is. Ben Birnbaum (Washington Times) quotes her latest lies as he reports on Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi:

Mr. Allawi headed the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc in Iraq’s 2010 elections. The bloc won two more seats than Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law alliance, but Mr. al-Maliki was able to form a government under a 2011 power-sharing deal.
That deal, which gave several ministries to Iraqiya, was supposed to have given Mr. Allawi control of a new strategic policy council, but the former premier declined the post when Mr. al-Maliki refused to cede it much authority despite what he called U.S. guarantees.
"The policymakers promised to support this, but ultimately and unfortunately, none of this has happened, and the United States forgot about this power-sharing completely," Mr. Allawi said. "I think the United States deliberately is taking Iraq out of the screen because there is a gross failure in Iraq."

Allawi's telling the truth. Victoria's lying. And, FYI, her presence and her lies are really helping to demoralize career State Dept officers who are now talking about why this Dick Cheney's worker ended up at State, at why Robert Kagan's War Hawk wife was brought in by Hillary Clinton to be the Dept's spokesperson? It's bad, it's going to get a lot worse. And each time she lies in public, it just makes things even worse. I was asked by a friend in upper levels at State if Victoria was as bad as he's hearing. I responded that here, at The Common Ills, I've covered briefings of Republicans (I'm a Democrat) Dana Perino and Tony Snow and Scott McClellean and that I found them to be fonts of honesty and wisdom compared to Nuland. That I also found her to be highly unprofessional with her need to open with jokes and shoe talk and who moved the podium and other ha-has delivered in a voice so flat PitchPerfector couldn't help her.

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