Friday, April 27, 2012

Sistani calls for the publication of the Erbil Agreement

Press TV reports on Moqtada al-Sadr's visit to the KRG yesterday to meet with KRG President Massoud Barzani and the press conference Moqtada held in Erbil.  They quote him stating, "I came here to listen to their (Kurds') points of view (on issues related to Iraq's political situation).  In fact, I adovcate getting closer to the Iraqi people and protecting the Iraqi people before protecting our parties and blocs.  All sides have to pay attention to the public interest and the Iraqi people. The oil of Iraq is for the people and no one has the right to claim it for himself and exclude others. . . . Dialogue is the only solution to end former and current political disputes and all other issues."

Moqtada was attempting to address the ongoing political crisis. Briefly, March 2010 saw parlimentary elections.  State of Law (Nouri al-Maliki's slate) came in second to Iraqiya (led by Ayad Allawi).  Nouri did not want to honor the vote or the Constitution and refused to allow the process to move forward (seleting a new prime minister).  Parliament was unable to meet, nothing could take place.  This is Political Stalemate I and it lasted for over eight months.  In November 2010, Political Stalemate I finally ended.  What ended it?

The US-brokered Erbil Agreement.  This was a written document where everyone made concessions and everyone got something out of it.  Nouri got to be prime minister.  He was loving the Erbil Agreement then.  And as soon as he was named prime minister-designate, he began demonstrating he wouldn't honor the Erbil Agreement.  He had called for a referendum and census on Kirkuk for December 2010.  He was supposed to have done that by the end of 2007.  But he refused to even though Article 140 of the Constitution demanded it.  But as he was trying to get everyone to agree to the Erbil Agreement, he was trying to appear resonable and scheduled the referendum and census.  After being named prime minister desisngate, he called off the census and referndum.  It's still not taken place all this time later.  He was also fully on board with the idea of an independent national security commission and it being headed by Ayad Allawi.  But then he got named prime minister-deisgnate and suddenly that was something that couldn't be created overnight but would take time.  17 months later, it's still not happened.

Nouri used the Erbil Agreement to get a second term as prime minister and then trashed the agreement.  He used everyone's concession to him but refused to honor his concessions to them.
This is Political Stalemate II, the ongoing political crisis in Iraq and, no, the political crisis in Iraq did not start December 19th or 21st as Nouri went after political rivals from Iraqiya (Iraqiya came in first in the 2010 elections).  From Marina Ottaway and Danial Kaysi's [PDF format warning] "The State Of Iraq"  (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace):
Within days of the official ceremonies marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved to indict Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on terrorism charges and sought to remove Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq from his position, triggering a major political crisis that fully revealed Iraq as an unstable, undemocractic country governed by raw competition for power and barely affected by institutional arrangements.  Large-scale violence immediately flared up again, with a series of terrorist attacks against mostly Shi'i targets reminiscent of the worst days of 2006.
But there is more to the crisis than an escalation of violence.  The tenuous political agreement among parties and factions reached at the end of 2010 has collapsed.  The government of national unity has stopped functioning, and provinces that want to become regions with autonomous power comparable to Kurdistan's are putting increasing pressure on the central government.  Unless a new political agreement is reached soon, Iraq may plunge into civil war or split apart. 

Bad and lazy reporting wants to pretend the crisis started in December 2011.  That's not reality.  Reality is more bad news for Nouri.  Kitabat reports Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani declared today in Karbala that the Erbil Agreement should be published.  The Ayatollah noted that there are disputes about whether or not it was implemented.  He says the way to end the dispute is to publish the agreement and that the people can then decide for themselves whether the agreement was carried out, whether or not it was Constitutional*, whether or not it represented the best interests of Iraq.  The agreement and the Constitution? There's nothing in the Constitution that allows for the Erbil Agreement.  There's also nothing in the Constitution that bars the Erbil Agreement.  The White House and the State Dept examined that at length before it was put into writing.  They brokered the agreement and did so to end the eight-month-plus gridlock (Political Stalemate I).  The agreement is clearly extra-constitutional and we warned about that in real time.  But it is not forbidden by the Constitution.  After getting what he wanted from the agreement, Nouri and his lackeys began to insist that it couldn't be honored because it was unconstitutional.  It's not.  If it is unconstitutional then the Parliament needs to vote on a PM because they haven't freely done that, they've allowed Nouri to become prime minister-designate (and then prime minister) in spite of the Constitution.  An argument can be made that the only known aspect of the Erbil Agreement that might be unconstitutional would be Nouri being PM since the Constitution is specific on how you become prime minister designate (Nouri didn't meet those qualifications and he knows it, that's why he implemented the eight month stalemate) and since it is specific on how you then move to prime minister. 

For those who've forgotten, a prime minster-designate is judged to be competent to be prime minister by forming a Cabinet in 30 days.  That is nominating the people and get the Parliament to vote on each one.  A Cabinet is a Cabinet.  The Constitution doesn't allow for half Cabinets or partials.  Nouri was unable to name a full Cabinet in 30 days (actually more than 30 -- as usual Jalal Talabani broke the Constitution for Nouri thereby allowing him more than 30 days).  The Constitution is clear that if you do not form a Cabinet in 30 days, a new person is picked to be prime minister-designate.

Nouri failed.  Among the posts empty when he was wrongly and unconstitutionally moved to prime minister were all three of the security posts.  He had no Minister of the Interior, no Minister of Defense and no Minister of Natioanl Security. 

For those who want to claim that a full Cabinet wasn't what was intended, that's a flat out lie.  The Constitutionw as written in 2005, not 80 years ago, not 100.  There is only one requirement to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister: building your Cabinet.

And for those who still can't grasp that this means every seat, every post, then at least have the brains -- if not the integrity -- to grasp that there is no way in hell that the Constitution ever intended for Minister of the Defense (army) or Minister of Interior (police) to be empty posts.

When Nouri refused to announce them in December 2010, "critics" (so labeled by the press) turned out to be prophets.  They stated that Nouri wouldn't fill them in the next few weeks (as the press claimed), they siad it was a power grab.  All this time later, these posts are still not filled.

Which is why Jason Ditz (, reporting on Moqtada's visit to Erbil, observes, "Removing Maliki could be harder than it seems, however, as he is not only the prime minister but the acting Interior Minister, Defense Minister, National Security Minister and chief of military staff. This gives him de facto control over the entire national army and police force."

If you were waiting this morning, sorry.  We had an early speaking thing and I wasn't able to do two entries.  So this one is late.  My apologies.

We'll close with this from the National Lawyers Guild:

NLG Queer Caucus, TUPOCC, Anti-Racism and Anti-Sexism committees demand Hennepin County Attorney drop charges against CeCe McDonald

Nathan Tempey,
Communications Coordinator,
(212) 679-5100, ext. 15
On June 5, 2011, CeCe McDonald, an African American transgender woman, was assaulted by Dean Schmitz, a white heterosexual man, and his friends in a violent, racist, and transphobic attack.  In the face of extreme violence causing her serious physical injury, Ms. McDonald defended herself.  The Hennepin County Attorneys’ Office refuses to recognize her right to self-defense, and instead is prosecuting her for two counts of second degree murder for the death of Schmitz.  If Ms. McDonald is found guilty of either count, she could be imprisoned for up to 40 years.
The night of the attack, Schmitz and his crowd began yelling racist, homophobic, and transphobic slurs at Ms. McDonald and four of her friends, calling them “niggers,” “fags,” “chicks with dicks,” and rapists wearing women’s clothes as they walked past Schooner Tavern in south Minneapolis.  An altercation ensued when one of the white women with Schmitz smashed a liquor glass in Ms. Mc Donald’s face, causing serious injury.  Witnesses reported that Ms. McDonald had turned away and was leaving the altercation when Schmitz followed her in an aggressive, hostile fashion.  Schmitz was subsequently stabbed with a pair of scissors in the chest and bled to death at the scene.  Although Ms. McDonald claims she acted in self-defense and despite criminal conduct on the part of many in the crowd, including the white woman who struck Ms. McDonald in the face, Ms. McDonald was the only person arrested and criminally charged.
This is not the first time Schmitz has expressed racist and transphobic sentiments or engaged in violence.  He was a proud racist who had a swastika tattooed on his chest and had previously been convicted of assaulting his fourteen year old daughter, his ex-girlfriend, and his ex-girlfriend’s father.
Ms. McDonald’s fear for her life was more than reasonable and stems in part from the severe and deadly violence transgender women of color face at alarming rates across the United States.  The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) reported in 2010 that people who identified as transgender or of color experienced assault or discrimination two times more often than non-transgender, white individuals, and transgender women made up 44% of the hate-motivated murders reported that year (a disproportionately high percentage in comparison to the percentage of transgender women in the overall population).  In the past month alone, three transgender women of color have been murdered in Chicago, Detroit and Miami.
The criminal legal system has been unable to deter this deadly violence plaguing transgender women of color, but it continues to further criminalize and punish those who are the targets of such violence.  LGBTQ people, particularly those of color, consistently report that law enforcement officials punish them, rather than their assailants, when they are victims of violence.  This dynamic guided the case of the New Jersey 7, where seven African American lesbians were prosecuted, charged and ultimately convicted after they were assaulted by a heterosexual man in the West Village, who claimed he was the victim of a “heterosexual hate crime.”  The police and prosecutors failed to properly investigate the incident and the women were presumed to be guilty based on their race, sexual orientation and gender non-conforming appearance.  They were framed in the media as “killer lesbians,” “a seething Sapphic septet,” and a “lesbian wolf pack” who engaged in “gang violence.”  (See and
Notably, in the past year the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has used its discretion to decline to prosecute in no less than three cases where victims killed their assailants while engaging in self-defense, yet it continues its campaign against Ms. McDonald.
The NLG Queer Caucus, Anti-Racism Committee, Anti-Sexism Committee and the United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) question the legitimacy and fairness of Ms. McDonald’s criminal investigation and prosecution in light of endemic racism and bias against gender non-conforming people in the criminal legal system.
We demand that Michael Freeman, the Hennepin County Attorney, dismiss the charges against CeCe McDonald in the interest of justice.  The NLG Queer Caucus, Anti-Racism Committee, Anti-Sexism Committee and the United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) call on those who support Ms. McDonald to contact Michael Freeman and urge him to drop the charges by calling him at 612-348-5540, faxing him at 612-348-2042 or emailing him at
For more information on the case, visit
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