Friday, April 20, 2012

Jalal covers for Nouri

Peter Cave (Australia's ABC) notes the death toll on yesterday's violence in Iraq has risen to 38 with over one-hundred-and-seventy people left injured. Khalid Waleed (Asia Times) points out that the targeted included an envoy for a religious authority and that this is a pattern of continued attacks on Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's envoys and followers:

In the most recent incident, a car belonging to Sheikh Ahmed al-Ansari, Sistani's envoy in the southern Maysan province, was targeted by a bomb last week. On April 3, an explosive device was planted outside the house of Sistani representative Sheikh Hasan al-Khamasi in Hilla, 100 kilometers south of Baghdad. 
Other figures close to Sistani have been attacked in Baghdad, Karbala, Muthanna, Babil, Qadisiyya, Najaf, Dhi Qar and Basra. Meanwhile, Sarkhi's offices in Karbala, Najaf, Qadisiyya, and Basra have been bombed, and other centers in Maysan, Dhi Qar, Babil and Muthanna set on fire.

 As calls for accountability for the failing security situation find people following Moqtada al-Sadr's advice and pairing Nouri al-Maliki's name with it, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani decides to minimize and rescue. Someone get him in an Al-Anon meeting. Al Sabaah reports Talabani has declared that Nouri is not moving towards becoming a dictator. Being such an enabler is what has hurt his party's standing as Kurds have begun to wonder if there's anything Jalal will stand up for?

Even with regards to providing asylum for Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, Talabani shifted that over to KRG President Massoud Barzani when things got too heated. (Nouri targeted the Talabani clan with rumors and appeals.) Now Jalal's selling out the KRG again to try to broker an understanding that will result in no changes but will table all objections to Nouri's power-grabs for a few months. As awful as Nouri is and he's really awful a real leader in the (ceremonial) position of president might have been able to push back against Nouri's power-grab.

 Nouri's been prime minister since 2006, Jalal Talabani's been president for that same period of time. Nouri is not moving towards becoming a dictator, Jalal coos. But in December, he began demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested for 'terrorism.' Both al-Mutlaq and al-Hashemi are Sunni (Nouri is a Shi'ite) and members of Iraqiya (Nouri is State of Law; in the 2010 elections, State of Law came in second to Iraqiya).    Rebwar Karim Wali (Rudaw) offered this reflection on the political crisis:
Iraq is in deep crisis and it is nothing new. It is not that Iraq has started moving toward dictatorship and totalitarianism just now. No! And in fact the Americans and Kurds have contributed to the creation of the dictator. The constitution of the "New Iraq" does not stipulate a just power sharing among the country's various components. That is the main reason as to why the situation has ended up where it is now.
The Kurds thought they were able to devolve the powers through the Erbil agreement of 2010, but that agreement only gave legitimacy to the current system. Iraq's constitution was violated the day Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc won the elections and was not allowed to form the government. Instead, it was Maliki's bloc that formed the government. Both then and now, the Kurds were part of creating a new dictator in Iraq.

This month has seen Nouri even the score on the results of the 2010 elections by going after the Independent High Electoral Commission which, in 2010, refused to falsify the results in Nouri's favor.  So last week, Nouri had the commission chair Farah al-Haidari and commission member Karim al-Tamimi arrested.  But, don't worry, Jalal assures us Nouri's not becoming a dictator.  In fairness, maybe what Jalal meant was that Nouri was already a dicatator, not headed towards becoming one?

Al Mada reports that Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) notes that the options of ending the political crisis include a true partnership in government, implementing the Erbil Agreement, moving towards early elections or Nouri can step down as prime minister.Alsumaria notes KRG President Massoud Barzani met with Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi today in Turkey.

As the crisis continues, criticism mounts.   As Sheikh (Dar Addustour) observes that participants appear to have lost site of the priorities, that there is a lack of vision and all it's about now is the political process and not about Iraqis or the country.  What usually happens around now is that the Kurds and Iraqiya heed the call to be 'reasonable' and 'mature.'  They put aside differences and Nouri continues acting exactly the same.  If anything's going ot change, this time Nouri's the one who's going to have to give.

In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

CONTACT: Murray Press Office 
 Thursday, April 19, 2012 
 (202) 224-2834 

Thursday, April 19, 2012 (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray Includes Critical Investments for Washington State in Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations Bill
Murray includes critical funding to promote economic development and get people back to work in WA in THUD Appropriations bill
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced she has included critical funding for Washington state priorities in the Fiscal Year 2013 Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill. The bill passed the Senate Committee on Appropriations today by a vote of 28-1 and will now head to the floor for a vote by the full Senate. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the THUD Subcommittee, Senator Murray fought to ensure support for Washington state projects and programs that bolster the local economy and create jobs were included in the bill.
“This legislation will create jobs and make critical investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, rail and transit systems, and airports,” said Senator Murray. “The bill also preserves an essential part of the country’s safety net by protecting housing assistance for low-income families and veterans. I am proud of the bipartisan work that went into this legislation and the critical assistance it will deliver to my home state of Washington. Working together, we assembled a balanced bill that makes responsible investments in our economy and our nation while living within today’s budget constraints.”
A list of Washington state priorities included in the bill appears below:
· $110 million for the University Link light rail extension which will fund the continued construction of Sound Transit Link Light Rail from downtown Seattle to the University of Washington, improving the mobility of the region for thousands of transit riders and helping keep cars off I-5 reducing congestion.
· $39 million for the Columbia River Crossing.
  • Funding for a new FAA Center of Excellence Jet-Fuel Research in Civil Aircraft, whose location will be determined after a national competitive process. This Center will help Washington state continue to expand its role in leading the nation in biofuels research.
  • Funding for Washington State Ferries to ensure that the region continues to get federal funding to support this critical transportation link. This bill will provide $5 million in funding directly for Washington State Ferries, as well as providing at least $40 million for which Washington State Ferries can compete. This funding is critical to Washington state as it helps ensure our ferry riders continue to have access to ferry service.
  • Support for fans using King County Metro Transit to access Mariner and Husky games. This is a continued effort by Senator Murray to prevent a Bush Administration provision from limiting Metro Transit’s ability to provide access to major sporting and cultural events in King County.
  • $75 million for 10,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers, these vouchers help homeless veterans have access to housing and services throughout Washington state and the nation. Since reviving the program in 2008, Senator Murray has already fought to secure funding to support 48,000 vouchers to help homeless veterans.
· $500 million for the TIGER program. Senator Murray created TIGER in 2009 to help fund significant infrastructure projects that are critical for the economic growth of communities in Washington and across the country. To date, this program has received over $3.5 billion and helped fund projects such as the Mercer Street Project, the South Park Bridge, the North Spokane Freeway, the West Vancouver Freight Access Project, the East Foster Wells Road Extension in the TriCities, the Extension of Sound Transit to the South 200th Street station, and improvements to address I-5 congestion around Joint Base Lewis McChord.

Meghan Roh
Deputy Press Secretary | Social Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

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