Friday, April 13, 2012

Nouri's never-ending power grab

Iraq, where the violence never ends. Reuters notes an armed attack on a bush of pilgrims headed to Samarra which left 5 dead and six injured and an armed attack on pilgrims headed to Kerbala which left 2 of them dead and six more injured. Alsumaria reports that 1 soldier was shot dead today in Mosul. And the targeting never ends. Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

In more distrubing power-grab news, Raheem Salman (ioL news) reports, "The head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and one of its members were arrested by police on Thursday on corruption charges, IHED officials said, in the latest apparent move for more government control of independent bodies. Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki won a court ruling in January 2011 that put the IHED and other entities, including the central bank, under cabinet supervision, raising concern over attempts to consolidate power by the Shi'a premier."

Ah, the power grab. What's really interesting, when you read all the accounts that have come out since Salam broke the news yesterday is how they avoid Martin Kobler. It was, after all, Martin who was just praising Nouri and the Electoral Commission to the United Nations Security Council, bragging about how Kobler was 'easing' things along by selecting new members for the commission. Painting rosy pictures. You'd never know a power-grab was in progress in Iraq to have listened to Kobler. Maybe the reality there is that no reported listened to Kobler. There were only a handful present and, judging by what they filed, they really tuned Kolber's stated remarks and just quoted from his written submission.

AP notes that the two are Karim al-Tamimi and the commission's chief Faraj al-Haidari. Reuters observes, "Critics fear that the premier may be showing autocratic tendencies in some of his actions and view Maliki's control over key security ministries with suspicion." AFP does a service by explaining the history behind what went down, "There is bad blood between Haidari, a 64-year-old Shia Kurd, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri a-Maliki's State of Law list over his refusal to carry out a national recount after 2010 parliamentary polls, in which the premier's list came in second to rival Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya list."

And the political crisis continues in Iraq. Al Mada reports that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq is accusing State of Law of making the National Alliance less popular with the Iraqi people as a result of the war with the Kurds and Iraqiya. If someone were trying to figure out the reason for this public declaration, two spring quickly to mind. One, ISCI is speaking for others within the National Alliance and attempting to send Nouri a message that he needs to dial it back. Two, ISCI has already made a decision to replace Nouri and these statements are to prepare the public for that soon-to-emerge event.

Why might they be concerned enough to be acting out either of the two scenarios? As Al Mada points out, Nouri sent to an independent MP with the National alliance (Ablzona al-Jawad) to the press yesterday to declare that Nouri is the only one who can lead.

Now you might be thinking, 'Oh, he's just showing support for Nouri as talk of a no-confidence vote increases.'

But he's not talking about that. He's talking about the supposed 2014 elections (the 2010 elections were supposed to take place in 2009). He's stating that Nouri is the only one who can lead Iraq and that there is nothing in the Constitution forbidding a third term.

4-13-2012 CORRECTION: Paragraph below states wrongly that AFP reported the promise being called off. I was wrong. AFP reported the promise not to run for a third term when Nouri gave an interview to Sammy Ketz of AFP. It was Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) who then reported that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, was stating that wasn't a promise but an observation about the process and goals. That was my error and my mistake. My apologies.

Iraqis took to the streets in numbers that alarmed Nouri. He immediately promised he would address corruption within 100 days (a stalling technique, the 100 days came and went and he did nothing) and he declared that he wouldn't seek a third term. Immediately, within 48 hours, his people were telling the press that it wasn't a promise. AFP broke that story but the rest of the Western press chose to ignore it and continue to praise Nouri for his promise and tell you what a 'statesman' Nouri was.

The whoring never ended.

Nouri's lawyer declared last year that Nouri could seek the post of prime minister a third time. Why? He wasn't asked that. he raised that to the press.

Because Nouri never intended to keep the promise. And now he's got a bribed member of the National Alliance going out and making the case that only he can lead.

Of course, if the power-grab continues much more, it doesn't really matter. Elections will be nothing but a joke in Iraq if they're even held.

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