Thursday, April 05, 2012

The national conference, just one more thing executed in Iraq

Today was the day Nouri was supposed to demonstrate what a leader he was. The political crisis would finally be addressed via a national conference with the various political blocs participating.
News of the conference's death emerged yesterday.

The political crisis (Political Stalemate II) has been ongoing since at least December 2010. Political Stalemate I (eight months of inaction following the March 7, 2010 elections) ended only when all parties agreed to the US-brokered Erbil Agreement. This agreement found all blocs making concessions. Nouri wanted to remain prime minister, so he agreed to practically any demand/request on any other issue. Having been made prime minister-designate, he immediately began saying that the Erbil Agreement would have to wait on certain things -- for example, he said, it would take time to create the independent national security commission to be headed by Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi (Iraqiya won the most votes in the election). These things would be a matter of days. But as the weeks progressed, he made clear the promise to resolve the issue of Kirkuk wasn't going to be dealt with by calling off the planned census at the start of the December. As December was winding down, he was moved from prime minister-designate to prime minister and it was clear to many that the Erbil Agreement was being tossed.

Nouri went a few months claiming it would be implemented, give it time. Stalling is Nouri's tactic, after all. Then his lackeys -- in Iraq and the US -- began putting forward the argument that Nouri didn't have to abide by the Erbil Agreement it was illegal (many US lackeys were too ignorant of the law and used the term "unconstitutional" -- there is nothing in Iraq's Constitution that outlaws the Erbil Agreement or anything similar to it, the ignorant most likely would have used the term "extra-Constitutional" if they had any education in the law). The problem with the ignorant making legal arguments is that although they are highly amusing they fail to grasp that law is carried through. Meaning if I argue the Erbil Agreement is illegal, I'm not just giving Nouri permission to ignore it, I'm arguing that Nouri's second term as prime minister is illegal because that resulted from the Erbil Agreement. Logic is not a skill that the lackeys possess.

By last summer, the Kurds were tired of waiting for Nouri to implement the Erbil Agreement and began demanding that he do so. Iraqiya, Moqtada al-Sadr and others joined that call.

The national conference was supposed to address the Erbil Agreement. Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi and President Jalal Talabani both began calling for a national conference on December 21st. Nouri was the stumbling block.

He said one wasn't needed. He also argued that it shouldn't be a called a national conference. Then he argued that all political blocs shouldn't be invited, just some. He tried to argue in February that any such conference should be confined solely to the three presidencies (Talabani, Nujaifi and Nouri). He argued about what should be on the agenda and what shouldn't. He argued so much that the conference that many once thought would take place in January kept getting kicked back and kicked back. As March loomed, Nouri began insisting that the Arab League Summit (March 29th) would have to be the focus and that any national conference would have to wait until after that.

Having stalled repeatedly, he was caught off guard when, the weekend before the Arab League Summit, President Jalal Talabani announced the national conference would take place April 5th.

Whatever happened to destroy that plan is not known yet. Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) observes that one moment yesterday, Osama al-Nujaifi was talking up the national conference and the next he was announcing the national conference was off due to issues that arose in a Tuesday meeting. Al Mada has several articles on the failed conference (a number of other Iraqi outlets ignore the news). In one, Al Mada notes over the history of the crisis and notes that the Erbil Agreement put an end tot he political vacuum and that Osama al-Nujaifi declared yesterday that abolishing that agreement would mean returning to square one. In another article, Ali Hussein asks for compassion for the Iraqi citizens who have waited and waited for the national conference to be held and resolve the various issues only to yet again be disappointed. Hussein notes that for months, Iraqis have heard government officials offer reassurances but that the reality is Iraqis are represented by politicians who lack vision.

In what may be an attempt to say "It wasn't me!" or to blame Nouri, Moqtada al-Sadr has issued a statement. Alsumaria notes the statement explains that he met with KRG President Massoud Barzani in Iran where they discussed how to address the ongoing political crisis.

Fresh off it's being ranked number three for most executions in one year [see Amnesty International report entitled [PDF format warning] "Death Sentences And Executions 2011."], the government of Iraq gears up to kill more people. Al Rafidayn reports a Babylon court has sentenced two former military officers to death for murder and theft. Louis Charbonneua (Reuters) reported yesterday evening that United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was expressing concern over the death penalty worldwide and specifically in Iraq which, according to the report, executed 80 people from December 2011 to February 2012 versus 68 from January 2011 through November 2011. (In eleven months, they put 68 to death; in December, January and February, they managed to put 80 to death.) He called for Iraqi to put in place "a moratorium on the use of the death penalty." In Amnesty International's "Death Sentences And Executions 2011," they explained:

The government of Iraq rarely discloses information about executions, especially names of those executed and exact numbers. According to Amnesty International information, at least 68 people were executed in Iraq, including two foreigners and three women. Hundreds of people were sentenced to death; 735 death sentences were referred to the Iraqi Presidency for final ratification between January 2009 and September 2011, of which 81 have been ratified. Most death sentences were imposed, and executions carried out, on people convicted of belonging to or involvement in attacks by armed groups, including murder, kidnapping, rape or other violent crimes.
On 16 November, 11 people, including one woman, convicted of terrorism-related offences, were reported to have been executed in al-Kadhimiya Prison in Baghdad. Among the executed men were an Egyptian and a Tunisian national, Yosri Trigui, who was arrested in 2006 by US forces for his alleged involvement in terrorism-related acts. He was sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) for his alleged involvement in a bomb attack in Samarra the same year, in a trial that did not appear to meet international standards. The intervention of Tunisian Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi had initially led to a short postponement of the execution.
Trial proceedings before the CCCI were very brief, often lasting only a few minutes before verdicts are handed down. Defendants in criminal cases often complained that "confessions" are extracted under torture and other ill-treatment during pre-trial interrogation. They were often held incommunicado in police stations or in detention without access to their legal representatives or relatives, not brought before an investigative judge within a reasonable time and not told of the reason for their arrest. The "confessions" extracted from them are often accepted by the courts without taking any or adequate steps to investigate defendants' allegations of torture. The "confessions" are also frequently broadcast on the Iraqi government-controlled satellite TV Al Iraqiya, which undermines the presumption of innocence.

Alsumaria reports that 1 police officer was shot dead in Mosul today and the Mosul home of a manager over passports was damaged by a nearby bombing which may have targeted the home.

We'll close with this from the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee:

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC)

PO Box 150553, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Tax Day Actions -


For Immediate Release: April 5, 2012

Contact: Ruth Benn, NWTRCC Coordinator

800-269-7464 (718-768-3420) or

“Tax Day” Antiwar Protests

Individuals Publicly Refuse to Pay Taxes for War

On April 19, 2012, two days after the April 17 tax deadline, peace activist and Gold Star Mother Cindy Sheehan will appear in court in Sacramento, California. The Justice Department, on behalf of the IRS, is seeking to discover why she hasn’t paid taxes in recent years. Sheehan has responded that “If the feds can give me my son back, I’ll pay my taxes.” She became a relentless peace activist following her son’s 2004 combat death in Iraq.

Sheehan will be joining thousands of others expected to demonstrate between now and tax day to oppose what they see as excessive spending on military and wars around the world to the detriment of human needs. On or before April 17, demonstrators in dozens of communities will be leafleting, protesting, picketing at post offices, IRS offices, federal buildings, and other public spaces with messages such as “Money for Schools Not War” and “Occupy the IRS” or “Fund the Future of the 99%, Not the Wars of the 1%.”

Cindy Sheehan’s refusal to pay is neither unique nor new. There are many documented instances of individuals refusing to pay taxes for war since ancient times. For example, in Aristophanes 411 BCE play Lysistrata, the heroine responds to a magistrate’s question by saying, “We want to keep the money safe and stop you from waging war.”

Today’s “war tax resisters” include Marjorie Swann Edwin (CA), whose resistance began as a response to World War II; Ed Hedemann (NY), who began refusing in 1970 because of the Vietnam War; David Waters (AL), who started during the first Gulf War in 1991; and Erica Weiland (WA), who began her refusal to pay the IRS during the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These and other war tax resisters are available for interviews.

More than 280 individuals have made their refusal public on the War Tax Boycott website,, an online campaign initiated by National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. NWTRCC endorses the second annual Global Day of Action on Military Spending, coinciding with tax day and the release of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s new figures on world military spending, which rose to an all-time high of $1.63 trillion in 2010.

NWTRCC was founded in 1982 as a coalition of local, regional and national groups providing information and support to people who are conscientious objectors to paying taxes for war.

There are many protests around taxes. The list of actions collected by NWTRCC,, includes groups that are involved in or support war tax resistance and redirection of those taxes to human needs.

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Tax Day Actions –

War tax resisters are available for interviews.

Ruth Benn, Coordinator

National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee

PO Box 150553

Brooklyn, NY 11215


The e-mail address for this site is